April 2021

Weaving Cultures of the Americas - the Continuous Thread

Welcome to The Arts Society North Bucks
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 -
10:00 to 13:00

A colourful Study Day spanning 2,000 years and four civilisations which together created some of the finest textiles in history.

This Special Interest day is in the form of a two-part Zoom webinar by Chloe Sayer, a freelance specialist in Latin American art and culture.

A common thread links the Incas of Peru, the Maya of Central America, the Aztecs of Mexico and the Navajo of the American Southeast. Artists in cloth, they have created some of the finest textiles in the history of the world. 

Ancient burial grounds in Peru have preserved exquisite offerings and dazzling textiles. Two thousand years ago, weavers and embroiderers at Paracas produced sumptuous garments patterned with mythological creatures, elements from nature, and complex geometric designs. The Incas rose to power after AD 1200. Inca textiles were central to political, military, social and religious life across their vast empire.

The civilisation of the ancient Maya reached its peak between AD 300 and 900. Great cities, many still covered by rainforest, grew up in parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Carved stone panels, ceramic figurines and splendid mural paintings offer an insight into religious rituals, courtly life and clothing styles. Today Maya spinners, dyers, weavers and embroiderers perpetuate the skills of their ancestors.

The Aztecs of central Mexico began their rise to power in AD 1325 and surrendered to invading Spanish forces in 1521. Although they were a warrior nation, their creative achievements were breathtaking. Their legacy includes painted books, sculpture and fine featherwork. Aztec descendants wear magnificent clothing for religious festivals, and dress the Christian saints in intricately woven textiles.

Beauty is crucially important to Navajo culture. According to oral tradition, the Navajo were taught to weave during their mythological past by 'Spider Woman'. Cotton textiles were common, but wool was adopted after the arrival of Spanish settlers. Navajo rugs, tapestry-patterned with interlocking geometric designs, are prized by museums and collectors.


Ms Chloe Sayer

Freelance specialist in the art and culture of Latin America. Has lectured in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Has curated exhibitions, and assisted on TV documentaries for BBC and Channel 4. Has made collections in Mexico and Belize for the British Museum, and is Research Associate in the Department of World Cultures at the Royal Ontario Museum. In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious Ohtli medal by the Mexican government for her long-standing commitment to Mexican culture. Her many publications include Mexican Textiles (British Museum Press, 1990), Arts and Crafts of Mexico (Thames & Hudson, 1990), Focus on Aztecs and Incas  (Watts Books, 1995), The Incas - The Ancient World (Wayland, 1998), Textiles from Mexico (British Museum Press, 2002), and Mexico: Clothing and Culture (Royal Ontario Museum, 2015). Has also published articles in travel guides, newspapers and magazines.

Mobile number is for use on the day; please contact by email or landline in the first instance.