Inca Art, Pottery, & Designs Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Nola Bridgens

Nola has taught elementary school and tutored for four years. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, a master's degree in Marketing, and is a certified teacher.

The Inca civilization of Peru is known for their incredible ability to design and produce art, particularly pottery and textiles. This lesson will teach you about the types of art the Incas are famous for.

Incan Art and Design

Do you enjoy creating art? Art is an important part of most cultures and the Incas of Peru were no different. They were extremely skilled at pottery, metalwork, and textiles. They created everything by hand and took great care in making sure every little detail was correct. The Inca culture was known for their creative, geometric, and symmetric designs.

The art the Incas created was almost always bright and colorful with geometric patterns, like squares, triangles, and parallel lines. They liked to use a repetition of designs as well as symmetry in their art. Symmetry is when an object or a shape becomes just like another when you flip it.

Inca tunic with geometry and symmetry

One design that the Incas used frequently was the checkerboard, with its geometric squares and symmetry. They also liked using symbols that represented animals and birds.

Incan Pottery

Let's travel back to the time of the Incas and explore some of the art they created. One of the forms of art they are most known for is pottery. Back in the 1400s BCE they did not have the luxury of using a potter's wheel and had to create all pottery by hand. They used natural clay and added in materials such as sand, rock, and shell to help prevent the clay from cracking. Once the piece was created, they used a flat stone to smooth down the sides. Then, they painted the pottery and put it in a kiln or fire pit to dry it out and make it hard so it was usable.

Inca pottery

The pottery the Incas created was not just for art, but for practical purposes too, like storing food. One of the most common pieces created was the urpu bowl. It was a bulb shape at the bottom with a long neck and they used it to store maize, or corn. Pottery was also used to store chicha, or corn beer, plus other liquids. They also liked to create flat serving dishes and paint animal figures on them.

Incan Textiles

Unfortunately, not many examples of Incan textiles exist today. However, some were preserved in the dry climate, and explorers made drawings of what the textiles looked like, so we have great insight into the designs they used.

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