An Ica Textile

By Clifford C. Richey
September 2009

Photo: Mylene d'Auriol Stoessel Leyend: Ica Manto Paracas Museo de Antropología, Arqueología e Historia, Lima Perú Illustration 1: Ica Textile This textile's gesture signs and imagery is on a black background which indicates that the subject is surrounded in darkness. The Figure's Stance is one of bending over and is the Form for ascending. There is the possibility that the bent form of the figure may be using a staff or cane which is the sign for old age. Thus the scene or topic could have been one of the sad old warrior. The next largest Form or level is that of a Face that is difficult to see because it is almost all form. It is composed of two square red eyes, yellow eyebrows and a large red mouth. This Face Form means, His Face, his appearance. Next we see the yellow Fish Head with a large black Eye. with a red, yellow, and blue curved lines as a Tail Fin. The black area behind the Fish Head is in the Form of a Long curving Leg and a Foot that shapes the Fish Head. The long-dark-journey. The Fish imagery is the sign for a swimmer. The Headband (yellow) above the figure's Face is in the form of a Bird, indicating flight. The Long Hair is blue in color (indicating water) and is made up of several lines. The Hair is the sign for a cleansing or purification and the Lines represent a flowing. Flowing water.

Illustration 2: Ica Textile The One Ascending The Old, Sad Warrior The Legs and Feet representing the word long. The Legs are vertical-place signs with blue place signs below them indicating water below. The Feet are Eagle claws and represent the Hands of the Sun, the stewards of the Sun. The Eagle represented the Great Hunter of the Daytime while the Imagery of a Jaguar represented the Great Hunter of the Nighttime. So this composition is related to the rising Sun and an Eagle Warrior. The First Claw Forms the sign for taken -downward while the following three Claws Form the signs for, the many(3)-below. We will now take a look at the Arms and Hands of the warrior. By their Stance (position) we note that they indicate above and below or the upper-world and the under-world. The Lower hand has a spirit sign on it and it is holding a Tumi-knife. The red color above it is the sign for blood as this sign is made from using the fingers from both hands making lines below the Nose (this sign probably is based the imagery of a bloody nose). In this case the sign is upside down as the Tumi knife could be perceived as an upside down Nose with the lines of blood streaming from it. The Upper Hand's spirit sign (Mouth, place sign) is light indicating the surface and above while the Lower Hand's spirit face has a darkplace sign for a mouth. This reinforces the positions of the Hands. The Upper Hand also has a spirit sign on it. The Hand is in the Form of the sign for, held-as-in-a-bowl. The Hand holds a Severed Head which is colored blue for water. The Face of the Head, he appears in

the Form of a male-spirit. The Eyes are the signs for holes in the surface of the earth. The red (for resurrection) Mouth is the sign for a water-source or a spring. The Hair, brown, is the sign for flowing and pure or clean (purified or cleansed). The Hair on the upper portion of the Head has many signs for ascending. The Ears on the side of the Face are in the Form of Legs and Feet, the journeys on the sides (of the earth). Also, the overall Form Hair is in the shape of a Bird for, flight. Above the Figure's hair (blue) is a Phallic Form indicating male. It was composed from a, brown, place sign and a red above-female-earth sign. Indirectly this indicates the male-sky above. Below the Lower Hand are two compound signs. These signs are made from a blue line indicating the surface of the water, a brown slanted sign meaning on and then a blue Circular location sign followed bay another slanting ( Stance -side) brown sign meaning, above on the side. This is followed by a large brown ascending sign. Next we have two red male-spirit signs. The male spirit signs are all connected by surface-side signs and the circular location sign at the bottom. The Form of the red signs is one of arising and being red indicate re-birth or resurrection. These red sign terminate at the upper end with three more signs. The number three is shorthand for the word, many. The middle sign is a vertical-place sign while the outer two signs indicate houses or domains. These signs are directly under the Fingers of the Lower Hand indicating four (4) places stacked as levels (the Index Finger represents the earth's surface). Finally we have the signs directly under the Fish Head. These are dual signs being stylized Hands pointing upward and upward. They are also the signs for hillsides or mountainsides. Below are larger signs the first one, on the left, being a Leg and Foot (brown) meaning as stated previously, a long journey. This is followed by four vertical-place signs. The number four representing the four directions and in this case may provide us with a hint of the color code used for the directions. But they just might identify the vertical places by color. In any event, the meaning of the four directions is one of, in all directions or everywhere. Below these signs are four male-spirit signs –male-spirits-everywhere. There appear to be smaller signs within other signs in this composition but they are too small to be discerned clearly. It is doubtful that any of these signs would change the major aspects of the theme.

Illustration 3: His Face, His Appearance
His Face, His Appearance His Sad Face (expression of mouth) Surrounded by Darkness The Tumi-Knife, The Ray Of The Sun The Locations Of The Openings

(the earplugs) (eight openings, the reason for this count is unknown) Here (fingers pointing downward to the mouth/hillside signs) At The Houses (domains) Of Rebirth The Great Mouth, The Great Spring The Great Hill Its Many Places Of Rebirth

Illustration 4: The Legs and Feet
The Long Journeys Of The Hands of the Eagle The Warriors of the Sun Taken Down (initial claw is the sign for taken-downward) Below The Many (three remaining claws meaning many) The Vertical Places, The Deep Places The Places Of Water

Illustration 5: The Bird
The Bird, The One Who Flies His face, His Appearance As Male-Spirit The Turning Place The surface-place sign with rounded sides) The Opening (formed by the “V” of the chin) The Opening Place (compound of the “V” of the end of the tail and the place sign of the tail) Taken Downward On A Journey (compound of taken-downward sign and foot sign) The Dark-Place The Houses Of Rebirth (the eyes and nose)

Illustration 6: The Fish
Here (form of hand with index finger pointing a direction) His Face, His Appearance The Hand, The Steward His Eye, The Eye Of The Sun (the fish's eye) (in) The Deep-Dark-Hole (the black circle ) The Fish, The Swimmer

His Long Dark Journey (The black outline of a curved leg and foot behind the head) Four Movement, Moving Everywhere (motion signs plus the number for the four directions meaning, everywhere) The Many Journeys (the three colored legs meaning, many) (possible color code related to direction)

Illustration 7: The Hand Pointing
Here In The Flowing Water (the index of the hand pointing toward the multiple lines that are the sign for flow or flowing) (the flow is color coded blue for water)

Illustration 8: The Lower Hand
Below (relative position to upper arm and hand) The Many Journeys Of The Arm, The Hand The Warrior, The Steward (of the Sun) His Spirit in The Deep-Dark Place The Houses The Levels Everywhere (number 4 -everywhere)

Illustration 9: The Upper Hand
Above (relative position to lower arm and hand) The Arm, The Hand Taken Upward (taken upward sign on left side of hand which makes the hand appear deformed) A Surface Place The Houses (domains of the earth) The Warrior, The Steward His Face, His Appearance His Male-Spirit Held As In A Bowl Of Water (blue color code for water) On the Sides (of the earth) The Long Journeys The Ascending Flights (Hair in the form of a bird's head and wings. Note the eye and beak on left)

Illustration 10: The Hand Holding The knife
The Hand That Holds The Knife, The Steward of the Sun Who Holds The Knife The Source Of The Spreading Blood (The Tumi knife viewed as an upside down nose coupled with the gesture sign for blood made from lines emanating from the nose) (the color red along with motion signs for spreading) (dual imagery and meaning) The Hand, The Knife On The Surface (upper line of hand represents the ground's surface) of The Hillside The Many Places Of Rebirth (Form of a hill with the knife on its side and place signs inside the hill. Red color indicating rebirth)

Illustration 11: The Staff or Cane
(The figure appears to be carrying or using a staff or cane in his hand) (The cane combined with the Figure's bent over stance would seem to indicate age) (As discussed above this could have been the sign for old age) (At this level of interpretation we will just used the available signs which are cosmological and metaphorical) (We will continue below the hand as we have already covered the hand above) The Vertical Place Of The Houses (domains of the earth-female On The Sides The Male Spirits On the Sides (The two such signs) Their Location (circular sign) Below (stance) The Locations of The Ascensions

Above And Below The Hillsides (stylized hand forms with index fingers pointing a direction, up and down) (dual use as the imagery also means hill or mountainsides) The Journey The Deep Vertical Places Everywhere (the place signs number four, everywhere or all-over) The Male-Spirits Everywhere Below (the spirit signs number four: everywhere or all-over) (a possible color code: black, red, blue, and white) (possible meaning: below in the darkness, rebirth, water, and the earth's surface) (the mouths are place signs and the eyes are on either side) Assuredly there have been mistakes or mis-perceptions in making this translation but there can be little doubt about the general cosmological and metaphorical meaning to be found in the signs and imagery. We have tried to translate this textile's message in the usual manner starting with Form through Imagery and then Basic gesture signs from which much imagery was composed. However, the system was quite fluid and these levels, at times, seem to merge with one another. For example a Form may have been based on an Image or a gesture sign and vice versa. The system was non-linear and therefore it is difficult at times to know were to begin or end some passages. All the signs used in this translation have been found in many of the other various cultures of the Native American. The signs remain consistent from one translation to the other. The general cosmological message is surprisingly similar from one culture to another and may have been spread and solidified through the use of sign language itself. It appears that many cultures held their warriors in high esteem or at least those in authority maintained a cosmology that placed the warrior and warrior-priests at a high level within the cultures. The use of sign language in written form appears to have been all encompassing and was at once an art form as well as a communicational system. In terms of the cosmology almost everything the culture did was transformed into a cosmological message. Utilitarian as well as non-utilitarian objects, burials vaults in the shape of vessels dug into the ground. The layout of the grave goods and even the bodies were careful arranged so as to present a message related to the cosmology. Aqueducts and wells appear to have been based in the signs and therefore served a dual function that combined ritual with function. As we gain a greater understanding about how the compositional system functioned we may be able to learn more about the various Native American cultures as well as their mind set. One needs to wonder about the psychological implications of a system that enveloped the individual in a world view through which all reality was filtered and understood. Gesture Signs, Form, and Imagery appeared everywhere both by nature's hand and through human design. The combination of the two continually reinforced the other to strengthen a particular world view.