The South Coast of Peru is an ideal environment for breeding llamas and alpacas. There were plentiful sources of wool for weaving which explains why there was such a prominence of this craft. The skills that the South Coast peoples obtained in spinning, dyeing, and weaving techniques are considered to be among the greatest artistic accomplishments of the world (Bennett & Bird, 1964, 195). Moreover, the quantity of woven fabrics found in archeological digs is shocking.
The Incans were very particular about their hairstyles. The women parted their hair down the middle and let it hang straight down. In some areas of the empire, women would don two braids. They frequently washed their hair in order to keep it clean and shiny. The women brush their hair with combs made out of two rows of thorns tied onto wood with a piece of cloth. Sometimes women would go extreme lengths to keep their hair black, risking scalding, by dyeing it in boiling water mixed with an herb called chuchan. Women only cut their hair when they were mourning (Kendall, 1973, 33). Inca men often had their hair as a long bob that covered their ears. Tweezers made out of mussel shells and metal have been found, suggesting that the Inca removed their facial hair (Baudin, 1961, 64).
Headwear played an important role in distinguishing the social class and birthplace of an Incan. Both men and women wore a braid made out of various fabrics to secure their hair. The number of times that the braid was wrapped around the head proved higher status. The ruler wrapped his braid around his head in a turban-like fashion until it was approximately 6 centimeters in length. Tassels, pompons, and other symbols were added to the braid to signify status and home village (Kendall, 1973, 33). Quality of fabric said a lot about the class of an Incan or the importance of an occasion. The vicuña, a cousin of the llama, produces very fine and soft wool. The fabric was primarily worn by the noble because the fur is difficult to spin (Bennett & Bird, 1964, 195). Designs on the clothing indicate different group memberships, although we have not deciphered the exact meanings of the Andean patterns.
The supreme Inca, also known as the man-god, was the head of the ruling class. He wore a sleeveless tunic made out of vicuña wool. Over his shoulders he draped a long cape embroidered with geometrical patterns and he wore sandals made out of white wool. He has a ribbon tied around both his ankles and right above his knees. His headpiece, called the...