Mama Quilla is the Inca goddess of the moon. Married to Inti, the sun god, she is the female half of the divine equation. Before the Spaniards got to work smashing and melting things, Mama Quilla was worshipped in temples with walls of pure silver. Silver is her metal: in Inca mythology, silver is the “rain of the moon” (or tears of the moon), just as gold is the sweat of the sun.
Dressing up as Mama Quilla is an exercise in creativity, since it seems her original cult image was just a silver disk. We’re thinking of something a little more human. For the costume, we’re taking our cue from the moon maidens at the annual Inca Festival of the Sun in Cusco; they wear white dresses with embroidered symbols, blue cloaks, and silver arm cuffs. We’re also inspired by the silver votive figurines that have been recovered from Inca graves. These little figurines are dressed in complete miniature outfits, including feather headdresses.
The pieces we suggest, from left to right:
1. White layered dress. LotusTraders makes a ton of long white dresses, but we especially love the floaty tiered layers on this one.
2. Royal blue ruana. There is surely no garment more graceful than a ruana. This one is a blend of wool and cotton, which gives you both of the classic Inca fibers in one go. If you want to keep it closed, a silver moon scarf pin would be ideal (like this, for example).
3. Woven sash from Ecuador. This multipurpose textile is 20″ x 60″ and features traditional Andean patterns. Just fold it lengthwise and wrap it around your waist as a sash. The store has these in different colors; we chose the light blue, which has all the same colors as the moon maiden outfits.
4. White feather headdress. When we found this item we were thrilled. White feathers plus silver sequins. If that store is out of stock, you can also get the headdress here or here.
5. Hammered silver disk necklace and earring set. A perfect echo of Mama Quilla’s original cult image. Hang the earrings from each side of the feather headdress.
6. Silver metallic foil board for DIY arm cuffs. Save a ton of money and make your own silver cuffs from foil craft board. A single 10×13 inch sheet will make two cuffs (each cuff 5×13 inches). Just roll the strips around your wrist and have a friend help you tape the ends together.
Shoes: The skirt is long and full, so your shoes won’t show much. But we suggest something silver (of course).
Illustration credits: The main photo in our illustration is from the annual Festival of the Sun in Cusco, Peru. The silver disk (inset image) is from the Chimor kingdom on the north coast of Peru; it was made sometime between 1000 and 1400 CE, before the rise of the Inca Empire. The silver votive figurine (inset image) is from an Inca burial.