Certain materials have always been precious such as gold for its lustre, incorruptibility, and ease to work but some ancient cultures often gave a very high value to more unusual materials. The Romans loved Tyrian purple dye, the Incas prized fine textiles above all, and for the Chinese jade was extra special and even had associations of immortality. This collection looks at some of those precious materials, why they were revered by the ancients and what their craftspeople did with them.
Such was the value given to fine textiles that the Incas often required its production as tribute or tax from conquered peoples. To this end, specific quantities of wool or cotton were given to subject weavers each year so that they might produce a calculated quantity of textiles.