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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Jul 27, 2020, 06:48 AM

3. Inca Art

by Mark Cartwright
published on 11 March 2016

The art of the Inca civilization of Peru (c. 1425-1532 CE) produced some of the finest works ever crafted in the ancient Americas. Inca art is best seen in highly polished metalwork, ceramics, and, above all, textiles, with the last being considered the most prestigious by the Incas themselves. Designs often use geometrical shapes, are standardized, and technically accomplished. The European invaders destroyed much of Inca art either for sheer monetary gain or religious reasons but enough examples survive as testimony to the magnificent range and skills of Inca artists.

Influences & Designs
Although influenced by the art and techniques of the earlier Chimu civilization, the Incas did create their own distinctive style which was an instantly recognisable symbol of imperial dominance across their massive empire. The Incas would go on to produce textiles, ceramics, and metal sculpture technically superior to any previous Andean culture, and this despite stiff competition from such masters of metalwork as the craftsmen of the Moche civilization.

Just as the Incas imposed a political dominance over their conquered subjects, so too with art, they imposed standard Inca forms and designs. The art itself did not suffer as a consequence, though. As art historian Rebecca Stone puts it,

Standardisation, though powerfully unifying, did not necessarily lower the quality of art; technically Inca tapestry, large-scale ceramic vessels, mortar-less masonry, and miniature metal sculptures are unsurpassed. (Art of the Andes, 194)

The checkerboard stands out as a very popular design. One of the reasons for the repetition of designs was that pottery and textiles were often produced for the state as a tax, and so artworks were representative of specific communities and their cultural heritage. Just as today coins and stamps reflect a nation's history, so too, Andean artwork offered recognisable motifs which either represented the specific communities making them or the imposed designs of the ruling Inca class ordering them. The Incas did, though, allow local traditions to maintain their preferred colours and proportions. In addition, gifted artists such as those from Chan Chan or the Titicaca area and women particularly skilled at weaving were brought to Cuzco so that they could produce beautiful things for the Inca rulers.


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