Incan small bag and its uses

Man carrying bag
Man carrying bag

According to Inca law, members of each ethnic group or conquered state in the empire were required to wear their own distinctive native clothing. This made it possible for Inca officials to determine an individual’s origins upon sight and to make sure that no one wandered into forbidden new territory. (Travel was not legal for common people in the empire.) Headbands and headdresses, belts, and woven bags were often the distinguishing differences in native attire. Many men carried a small bag around with them, almost like a purse.



These small bags were mostly used for carrying coca leaves for chewing but they also carried good luck charms(source: These bags are woven and stitched from the usual camelid fibre sourced either from alpaca,llama or vicuna. Sometimes cotton was used in the coastal regions as well.

The question diagram for the incan small bag looks somewhat like this.

Question diagram

The process of manufacturing a bag is represented by the following concept map.

concept map
concept map

A concept map is a conceptual diagram that depicts suggested relationships between concepts. The text explains the relationship between each nodes in the concept map. Using this as a base we can try to draw the various flowcharts.

The first layer is a state transition model consisting of three nodes – Shearing, Weaving, and Stitching.

Untitled Diagram (1)

The next layer will have lesser abstraction. Adding more nodes we can provide more details. This can be represented using functional model as it clearly denotes the relationship of each process.


In the next layer we can only go into further into detail with regards to utilities or methods used. The remaining details can be summarized in the following points Since diagrammatical representation seems quite difficult:

  • The gestation period of Alpaca/Vicuna/Llama is around 11 months. So It takes about an year for a female to give birth to a young Alpaca.
  • There is no concrete evidence for methods of shearing  by the Incans.
  • Shearing is assumed to be done during spring in order to have time for the animal to re-grow its fur during winter.
  • Andean spinners use low whorl spindles exclusively. Within that, they’re generally referred to as a pushka and canti.
  • Insect pigments, and plant pigments were used for dying the spun yarn(As mentioned by kimberly).
  • Weaving was done either using Backstrap Looms or vertical looms depending on the size of the fabric woven. Vertical looms were used to weave lager pieces of fabric(As mentioned by kimberly).
  • The bag seems to be stitched since there appears be a embroidery work at the ends, as well as what appears to be stitch. This assumption was also made due to the fact that Incan mummies were found having knives and needles used for stitching.

As mentioned above, the bags were mostly used to carry coca leaves. I couldn’t find much of a process regarding any means of cleaning. All that is inferred is the following:

The Incas regarded coca as ‘the divine plant’ mainly because of its property of imparting endurance, nevertheless its use was entwined with every aspect of life; the art, mythology, culture and economy of the Inca Empire. Millions of Incans have chewed coca on a daily basis for many hundreds of years.The Conquistadors considered it an idle and offensive habit to be prohibited, but it was soon seen that the Incans could not work without coca even when forced to do so.


Incan small bag and its uses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s