Space, time and harmony : symbolic aspects of language in Andean textiles with special reference to those from Bolivar Province (Cochabamba, Bolivia).
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The thesis investigates how the designs woven in Andean textiles make up a symbolic language which both communicates information about those who wear them and demonstrates their desire to balance the opposing forces which are believed to govern their world. All textile elements share this communicative function and the thesis examines the significance of spin, colour and layout in the textile as a whole and in the individual designs. Textile terminology is drawn from fieldwork, the literature and from early Aymara and Quechua lexicons. The contemporary designs examined were personally observed in Bolivar in 1982/3 and 1986; the thesis suggests their derivation from colonial designs and discusses their possible iconographic content. Part one shows the significance of clothing as a statement of identity and describes briefly the weaving techniques and figures typical of the Bolivar area. Part two shows how cloth is seen as a vital, three-dimensional object and how in weaving as in the other plastic arts designs are encoded with abstract concepts fundamental to the traditions of a social group. Part three examines how certain colour combinations represent social, political or cosmic tensions and how their arrangement attempts to manipulate and control the energy generated by them. In particular it investigates how colour represents the circulation of suerte, or fortune, many of the names of which are also terms for colour combinations similar to those used in textiles. It also shows how specific elements such as stripes and figured designs act as metaphors through which the textile becomes a map or record of social, ritual and cosmic space.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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