This is the first of two exhibitions dedicated to the Long-term loan MASP Landmann, which arrived at the museum in 2016, where it will remain for a period of ten years. It includes 906 pieces including textiles, the object of this show, as well as ceramics and metalwork. Over the course of more than fifty years, Oscar and Edith Landmann put together one of the most representative collections of pre-Columbian art in Brazil, containing objects of different typologies, produced in the Andes between 1000 BC and the 16th century.
Made in a wide variety of weaving techniques using wool and cotton threads in natural or dyed tones, the textiles shown here were, for the most part, recovered from burials found at archaeological sites located in the most arid regions of the Andean Pacific coast. They are attributed to the Chavin, Siguas, Paracas, Nazca, Moche, Wari, Lambayeque, Chimu, Chancay, Inca and Ica cultures, which occupied what are now the territories of Peru and Bolivia between approximately 800 BC and 1532 AD. As a group, they evidence the cultural and technological diversity of the indigenous peoples of the South American continent before the European invasion.
Scientific researches about these textiles, together with the reports of the indigenous communities that currently inhabit the Andean highlands, reveal that the textile production was always a practice carried out by women, the outcome of traditions involving a vast know-how and codes transmitted for nearly three thousand years. The archaeological data also reveal that the Andean weavers enjoyed high social status in the hierarchies of political and religious power, especially in the last centuries that preceded the arrival of the Spanish. Magnificent textiles, looms and working tools of these women are recurrently found in temples and other prestigious spaces, often as part of the elaborate tombs of members of the governing elites. In this sense, the show is contextualized at the museum in an entire year dedicated to Histórias das mulheres [Histories of Women] and Histórias feministas [Feminist Histories], the pivotal theme for MASP’s programming in 2019.
Evidences of the greatness achieved by the textile production of the pre-Columbian Andes cultures are today scattered in dozens of museums around the world. In Brazil, only two institutions, besides MASP, include archaeological pieces of indigenous America in their collections: the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia of the Universidade de São Paulo and the Museu Nacional of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). In a national scenario still reeling from the tragic fire that completely destroyed the pre-Columbian collection of the Museu Nacional of the UFRJ, the textiles in the Long-term loan MASP Landmann are presented to the public as part of the actions for the strengthening of the often-silenced science and memory of the original peoples of South America. Spreading the knowledge materialized in these objects is a way of supporting the indigenous populations that continue to struggle for the right to keep alive their form of coexistence with the environment and with modern society.
CURATED BY Marcia Arcuri, adjunct curator of pre-columbian art, MASP