Clothing was an important part of the Incas lifestyle. The clothing portrayed social status of person, the place the person is from and what does he do. The incas used cotton, wool from Llamas, Alpacas and other rare wool. The clothes were colored with natural dyes coming from plants, animals, insects and minerals. The common designs used in the textiles were geometric figures, animal designs and anthropomorphous.
Types of textiles used in Inca Clothes
The Incas used three kinds of textiles. The first called 'Cosi'. It was plain and simple with no special decoration. This was used as blankets. The second 'Auasca', was used for daily use. It had no colour and design. 'Cumbi', the third textile was woven from alpaca wool, is used to make clothing for the royal family, authorities and the Inca king. The cloth made from Cumbi was known as 'Tocapus'. They had varied designs which explained the social status of the person. Some Tocapus contain more than 200 fibres per square inch which makes it a unique and perfect textile.
Since clothing depicted the status of a person, the type of clothing varied for all the classes in the society.
Clothes worn by Inca Emperor
The Sapa inca wore a cloth just once, after which it was burnt. A special group of women were engaged to make clothes for the Sapa inca. The Emperor wore a headdress, known as Ilautu. It had multiple folds with a tasseled fringe of a scarlet color (red). It also had feathers from a rare and curious bird called coraquenque. The coat was embossed with jewels and turquoise. The shoes were made of leather and fur. The shield on the chest had the picture of the Sun God engraved. While the badge was made of hummingbird feathers with a gold frame.
Inca Nobles Clothing
The Inca nobles also wore clothing less grandeur than the emperor. It had stones and gold to decorate the cloth. They also wore a Ilautu like the Emperor. All the people of the regime wore jewelry made of gold.
Common Man's Clothing in Inca
The common man wore clothing of wool which was coarser. They wore a sleeveless tunic which was knee length. A cloak was worn over, while the two ends of the cloak was tied in the front. The breech cloth, tunic and the cloak was colored. A man also carried a small bag which carried cocoa leaves, amulet and his personal things. The men cut their hair. It was short in the front and mid length at the back. The hair at the back was tied together with a sling or an ornamental band.
Clothing of Incan Common Woman
The woman wore a one piece skirt till the ankles. It was bound at the waist with a wide ornamental sash. The women wore head bands like the men, but were broad. They wore sandals. While their hair was left loose with a middle parting. They did not cut their hair. Cutting hair was a sign of mourning.