Peruvian textiles have an incredibly rich tradition, with pre-Incan museums all around the country featuring beautiful textiles from ancient cultures. For example, the Paracas people are known for their exquisite and delicate textiles. Dating from around 600 BC, these textiles were used to envelop mummies in layer after layer of ornate, finely woven cloth. Other pre-Incan cultures, such as the Nazca people and the Moche people, also had rich textile traditions; in these cultures, textiles were both highly valued and extremely useful.
It is said that a man of Inca nobility only wore each woven cape once, and that he possessed a storeroom full of them, so he could change at a whim.
The back strap loom used in the Andes today dates from pre-Inca times; today's weavers use very similar technology to that of their ancestors – down to the bone or wooden pegs, shuttles, and rods used with the looms. The Incas were famous for their assimilation policies; they took on, and improved the traditions of each civilization they conquered. As such, they improved the textile traditions of vanquished pre-Incan cultures. While the Incas will always be most famous for their architectural achievements, their ceramics and textiles were also exquisite. It is said that the Inca only wore each cape once and that he had a storeroom of them at his command. When the Spanish arrived, their thirst for gold and only gold caused them to gloss over the importance of the textile tradition that already existed in Peru. Nonetheless, the making of Peruvian textiles continued as it had for centuries before the arrival of the Incas and the Spanish. The knowledge of weaving was shared by the Andean method of person-to-person communication, and by watching and practicing. Today, the traditions surrounding Peruvian textiles are undergoing a renewal in Andean communities. Textiles are given as gifts in courtship, are important elements in marriage and coming of age ceremonies, and are present during baptism and communion celebrations.