The three layers of symbols that compose the metaphor represented in the Chimu costume (adapted from Brugnoli et al. 1997: 15)

The symbolic density

This ceremonial outfit is composed of various layers of superimposed symbols. The first is located in the textile’s ground, which is made in a way that achieves an effect of transparency. The second layer corresponds to a variety of geometric and anthropomorphic designs, found in the structure of the base as well. Finally, a third layer is composed of three-dimensional vegetable images attached to the plain weave cloth. Besides these three layers, color, the form of the costume and, surely, the way in which the wearer used it, constitute various additional levels of symbolic content that the costume represents.

This density of information signifies that some of the symbols were easily recognized by whoever attended the ceremonies where the costume was worn, while others were only effective in communicating information in the measure that the members of the public knew of their existence, even before seeing them.