9 julio, 2024

8 cultural manifestations of the Paracas culture

The cultural manifestations of the Paracas culture Most noteworthy are its textiles, ceramics, crafts, funeral rites and cranial deformations. This culture developed approximately between 900 BC and 400 AD, in the peninsula of the same name, located in the south of present-day Peru, near Ica.

The Paracas culture is one of the earliest known complex societies in South America. Its name comes from the Quechua word para-ako, which means «sand falling like rain».

During the 20s of the last century, some archaeologists discovered the great necropolis of Paracas, on the Pacific coast of the southern central Andes.

Main cultural manifestations of the Paracas culture

1. Textiles

One of the most significant cultural manifestations of the Paracas culture are its textiles. These have surprised scholars of textile art.

It is estimated that tens of thousands of meters of fabric could have been used and up to tens of thousands of hours of work in its production. Textiles were valued as a means to share wisdom and religious beliefs.

Almost all Paracas textiles exhibit two styles of embroidery: linear and color block.

In the linear style only four colors were used. These were decorated on top of a basic cloth, woven by straight embroidered lines, and by embroidered strips that surround the edges of the cloth. His typical motifs were felines, birds, snakes, and a figure with big eyes.

The second style involved a controlled composition of well-curved pictorial motifs, outlined by characteristic borders.

2. Ceramics

In addition to textiles, ceramics is another of the great cultural manifestations of the Paracas culture. In the ceramics of the first stages, a powerful influence of the Chavín culture can be detected.

After a relatively short time, themes related to the surrounding maritime nature were imposed as ornamental motifs.

As for its design, the Paracas pottery was black. The vessels were ovoid in shape, with two short tubular spouts joined by a bridge handle.

These vessels were decorated after firing, using resin-based colors. Other types of ceramics have been found in the Paracas tombs, but it is presumed that they were imported.

3. Crafts

In addition to ceramics, the Paracas had exceptional craftsmanship.

Among the objects produced are exquisitely worked stone sticks, obsidian knives used as scalpels, gourd-bark bottles, rattles, shell-and-bone necklaces, gold-hammered hair ornaments, feather fans, and basketry.

4. Funeral rites

The discovery of the great Paracas necropolis provided significant data regarding the funerary rites of this culture. This is a large communal burial site with 420 bodies, dating to around 300-200 BC.

In these ancient cemeteries, the mummified dead were wrapped in layers of cloth and clothing. The largest and richest contained hundreds of brilliantly embroidered fabrics, feathered costumes, and fine jewelry, interspersed with offerings of food, such as beans.

5. Cranial deformations

The Paracas used methods to alter the shape of the skull, elongating it during childhood. The purpose of this was to demonstrate social status.

Other cultural manifestations


They also practiced a crude form of brain surgery called trephination. The doctors of this culture believed that the blood from the head had healing properties. they did surgically drilled holes in the skull to treat physical trauma and, apparently, psychological disorders.

In that sense, the formation of scar tissue indicates that many of the patients actually survived the operations. However, it is not possible to know how they were affected by physical or behavioral problems.


They had a strict procedure for mummifying the dead: they would open them longitudinally and remove the viscera, then cut the thorax and remove the heart, cut off the head at the base of the skull, and emptied the brain mass. Pieces of cotton were placed in the eye sockets, the muscles were removed, making incisions in the extremities, and then they filled the corpse with a mixture of ground chili peppers and salt, lime, tar, powdered muña flower, and other ingredients.

They placed it in a fetal position and subjected it to slow cooking to reduce its size. Finally, they wrapped it in various cloths and put it in a reed basket to bury it. The method they used is still not fully known.


Although no vestiges of monumental architecture have been found, two sites stand out: Ánimas Altas and Ánimas Bajas, in the lower valley of Ica. For example, in Ánimas Altas there is a 100-hectare area surrounded by a high wall made of layers of straw and covered with adobe bricks. It has 13 structures of similar height, apparently oriented with the same architectural pattern.

On some of its walls you can see decorations that, according to research, were made when the mud had not dried. They were deified representations of felines.


Paracas. Recovered from britannica.com
Paracas, an introduction. Retrieved from khanacademy.org
Textile parachute. Recovered from gogeometry.com

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