DYE ANALYSIS OF PRE-COLUMBIAN PERUVIAN TEXTILES WITH HIGH-PERFORMANCE LIQUID CHROMATOGRAPHY AND DIODE-ARRAY DETECTION
JAN WOUTERS, & NOEMI ROSARIO-CHIRINOS
Dye analyses of pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles were classified according to the most characteristic chemical dye component present ([XAPU], [LUTE], [QUER], or [INDI]) or according to a familiar name for the dye or the dye source involved ([RELB], [COCH], or [TANN]). In some cases subgroups were created that allowed a more refined classification of related analytical patterns: e.g., [LUTX] in [LUTE]. The dyes represented by [XAPU] and [LUTX] were found only in the Paracas necropolis. [RELB] was also found in the Nazca period. During the Huari and Tiahuanaco cultures (500–1100 A.D.), [COCH] was found together with vegetal dyes [PURP]. From the Chancay period on, [COCH] was the only red dye detected.
In this paper, [COCH] was not found in Paracas or Nazca, but it was found during those periods in other studies. An additional series of analyses, in combination with radiocarbon dating by accelerated mass spectrometry (Van Strydonck n.d.), may improve our knowledge about the historically and regionally dependent use of cochineal.
The HPLC method used here seems to be a workable tool not only for the recognition of red dyes but for the yellows that were previously considered of less informative value (Saltzman 1986) and for indigoid dyes, pure or combined with mordant ones. A limited study of actual yellow-producing Peruvian dye plants already indicates that a great variety in composition exists and that exactly these variations may be useful in further studies involving HPLC to assign specific plant species to early Peruvian dyeings.
The association of N. Rosario-Chirinos to the laboratory of the Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage, Brussels, was possible through a credit given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brussels. A sample of Relbunium hypocarpium root was provided by the Royal Botanical Garden, Meise, Belgium. A sample of Relbunium ciliatum–dyed yarn was kindly given by Helmut Schweppe. A collection of yarns dyed with actual Peruvian dye plants (Zumbühl 1979) was provided by Max Saltzman, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angels. Samples of pseudopurpurin, rubiadin and xanthopurpurin were given by R.H. Thomson, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.