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Asháninka kithaarentze (tunic)
ca. 1925
Upper Ucayali River, Peru
Cotton, dye
140 x 128 cm
Collected by Wilhelm Schaeffler

The making of cloth in the Amazon is mostly restricted to the western part of the region and particularly to peoples influenced by Andean culture. Each Native group living in the montaña region on the eastern slopes of the Andes has its own version of the kushma, or cotton tunic. (Kushma is a Spanish word of Quechua [highland] origin.) The Asháninka living in the Ucayali uplands of the Gran Pajonal acquire kushma through trade with other Asháninka groups. Women learn to spin and weave cotton when they are young. The effort to make sufficient yarn for a single kushma may take an entire month. The garment is woven on a backstrap loom, and dyed stripes always figure in the design, vertical for men’s garments and horizontal for women’s.

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