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Peru displays pre-Incan funeral shroud

The funeral shrouds are estimated to be more than 2,000 years old.

By Brooks Hays
Peru displays pre-Incan funeral shroud
The newly returned Paracas funeral shroud. (Museum of World Culture)

LIMA, June 17 (UPI) -- A pre-Incan funeral shroud is being displayed in Peru after a Swedish museum returned the ancient artifact to the South American nation.

The Shroud of Gothenburg, which is composed of 32 woven frames and features some 80 hues of blue, green, yellow and red, was smuggled out of Peru by a Swedish diplomat in 1934. It's one of 89 textiles being returned to Peru by 2021 as part of an international agreement between the two countries.

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Aside from a remarkable display of color and intricacy, the garments depict condors, frogs, cats, corn, cassava and people. Researchers believe the imagery and design served as some sort of farming calendar.

The rest of the shrouds and other textiles are currently being cared for by Sweden's Museum of World Culture.

The first returned shroud -- now displayed in National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History in Lima, Peru's capital -- is one of four shrouds discovered on the Paracas Peninsula in the 1920s. They are the product of of the Paracas civilization, an ancient people about whom archaeologists and historians know very little.

Although most evidence of the civilization is concentrated in Peru's Paracas Peninsula, its believed the people were part of an ancient Andean civilization that once stretched along the Pacific coast.

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The funeral shrouds are estimated to be more than 2,000 years old, but as the Museum of World Culture explained, they are in remarkable condition, "as the the textiles were naturally preserved in the salty sands of the Paracas."

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