Info and value on a Peruvian tapestry?
April 17, 2012 8:23 PM   Subscribe

Artfilter: What can you tell me about this handmade Peruvian weaving/tapestry?

I was given this item as a gift. I know for certain that it was purchased directly from the artist in a small village somewhere in Peru and I am fairly confident that it's a one of a kind piece.

I am curious as to the subject (that's a phoenix, right?) and its cultural signficance, possibly where it was made, and what the fair market value of the item would be.

Also, any recommendations (aside from the obvious such as Ebay) on who might be interested in purchasing and/or where I might go about trying to sell it? I like the artwork but have some negative relationship vibes attached to it.

posted by eggman to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
The image seems to be based off the Nazca Condor image.
posted by strixus at 8:53 PM on April 17, 2012

The Phoenix is an old world myth. This is the condor.
As for value? Is it alpaca? Maybe a hundred bucks if you can find a buyer.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:21 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: If you think the weaving is of substantial value, the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco may be able to help you. They're experts in the meanings of traditional patterns and the economy of weaving in Peru. There's an English site if you click through the intro and the Union Jack.

That said, while it's a beautiful piece, it doesn't have any of the very localised symbols and patterns (e.g. village-specific key borders, constellations) which would indicate that it's old or was made with local use in mind. Since many people in Peru support themselves with the sale of these tapestries to tourists, you're probably not going to find an expert buyer for it.

The condor had significance for both the Nazca and the Incan civilisations. It's not fully understood what it meant to the Nazca, but for the Incas it was the symbol of the upper world (Hanan Pacha). They had a tripartite cosmology, of the upper world (Hanan Pacha, place of the stars and gods, the condor), the middle world (Kay Pacha, our world, represented by the puma), and the lower world (Uqhu Pacha, death, represented by the snake). It doesn't quite map onto the European heaven/earth/hell cosmology- death and the snake weren't so feared or associated with moral failure.
posted by pickingupsticks at 9:51 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: This is probably made somewhere in Moquegua ... these tapestries are bountiful there and can be bought for 20-30USD (if made of wool -- more if made from alpalca).

I don't think there'll be much of a market for this, as Pickingupsticks said.
posted by mateuslee at 9:57 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: pickingupsticks and mateuslee have phrased this better than I could.
I worked right across the street from the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco, and often stopped in to watch the weavers and dream about having the cash for some of the higher end pieces. They're a great organization, but I can't see them being of much help to you.
It's a cool looking piece, but it's not exactly one of a kind. Similar pieces can be found in most of the touristy "artisan markets" in Lima, Cusco, Nazca... The bright orange isn't really indicative of anything traditional that I've seen, which would be dyed with natural dyes, even today. Prices in Peru would vary in those markets from the 20-30 USD mateuslee quoted on up to quite a bit more in the scammier markets near archaeological sites like Machu Picchu or Sacsayhuamán.
I don't think there's any market for it beyond whatever you can get for it on eBay. As the others have said, it's based on the Nazca Condor, and you'll have better luck using that as your keyword. If I were selling it, I'd be happy with 50 or 60 bucks.
posted by piedmont at 12:30 AM on April 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all! I knew it was a new piece and didn't expect it to be worth much . . . thanks for confirming this for me!
posted by eggman at 6:28 AM on April 18, 2012

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