Module of the iconography on the Chimú attire that represent the ceremonial center (Illustration, Brugnoli et al. 1997: Fig.26)

The cross with stepped sides, representation of a funerary bundle (Illustration, Brugnoli et al. 1997: Fig.28)

Personage in profile with staff in hand and turban (Illustration, Brugnoli et al. 1997: 35

Circle that represents the “huachaques” or water reservoirs (Illustration, Brugnoli et al. 1997)

The ceremonial center

The geometric and anthropomorphic motifs of the second layer represent the power of the rituals of an ancestor cult, directed and controlled by the Chimú elite. These images are organized within rectangular modules that are repeated horizontally on the costume, composed of four basic symbols: 1) staggered walls that separate the central space and four smaller spaces; 2) a stepped cross in the center of the central space; 3) personages in profile with a staff in their hand–four of them located in the central space and in two of the smaller spaces; and 4) double concentric circles located in one of the smaller spaces.

The thick openwork walls refer to the magnificent adobe construction achieved by the Chimú, behind which the ceremonies that assured agricultural fertility were held. The centerpiece of rituals was a funeral bundle that contained the mummy of a ruler. It could have been represented here on the textiles by the cross with stepped sides, which seems to have been a reference to the ruling classes’ tunic. These ceremonies would be directed by members of the dynasty of the deceased, who held the political and religious power, and who were represented on the costume as personages bearing a staff in their hand. The final symbol—the double concentric circle—was commonly associated in the Andean region with sources of water, from which the fertility of the fields flowed.

Significantly, the set of garments corresponds quite closely to the basic structure of the civic ceremonial centers at the city of Chan Chan, which include large spaces where massive festivals were held in the presence of mummies, smaller spaces called audiencias where more private rituals were held, and other spaces equipped which contained tanks of water for residential and ceremonial use.