What Type of Clothing Did the Incas Wear?

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The clothing worn by Incas was determined by their status. Officials wore knee-length tunics adorned with pictures and symbols depicting their standing. The poorest members of the society wore plain clothing. The ruler of the Inca Empire, known as the Sapa Inca, wore a hat made of gold, an embroidered tunic covered in jewels, slippers made of fur or cloth, and a translucent cloth over his face.

Wealthy Incas wore clothing made from baby alpaca fur called cumbi and llawt’u, which were a series of decorative cords they wrapped around the head. Some llawt’u were woven from vampire bat hair. A headdress was worn by leaders and their extended family, with each family having its own specific headdress. Men of lower rank wore plain knee-length tunics, grass shoes or sandals made from leather, headbands, and the headdress worn by their particular family. Women wore ankle length skirts, shoes made of grass and other garments constructed from llama, alpaca or vicuña wool.

There were three classes of cloth used by the Inca, awaska and two separate classes of gunpi. Awaska, typically made from llama wool, was used to make clothing for household use. The fine-quality version of gunpi was woven from alpaca wool by men known as keepers of fine cloth, or qunpikamayuq. A higher-quality gunpi was woven by female virgins of the sun god temple using vicuña wool. The cloth had a thread count of 300 or more and was only used for garments worn by royalty or for religious ceremonies.