Incan Costumes & Ornaments: Costume Design and Research behind Ollantay

Ollantay will be streamed as a digital performance from Sunday, February 13th onwards. Buy tickets to watch the show HERE. Register your free ticket to attend the preview event HERE.



During their internship with Kaivalya Plays in August 2021, Sofia Fernando and Vaishnavi Shenoy researched costumes remotely as students of Christ University, Bangalore. Their remit was to decide the colours and aesthetics for the production's costumes. With the country under lockdown, an additional challenge presented itself. They would have to share design ideas that performers could execute at their own homes. With material sourced mostly from their closets and drawers.


Sofia and Vaishnavi focused on the shapes and textures of chakanas and the colours of the Incan Empire. Taking inspiration from the Inca's respect and admiration for wildlife, they suggested accessories that could be easily drawn and traced onto materials at home.


Below are the results they shared.



This is the Inca flag (Cusco).







The importance of Condor

The condor. The Incas considered the condor as the most sacred bird. Its large size and ability to travel long distances – from Lima to the Andes, for example – are some of the reasons why the Incas believed it to be the messenger for the heaven. We tried to add white coloured features (Looking alike to condor features) on costumes (pinning it on the belt or as arm cuffs)







Flag of Inca empire, made by pachakutek

6 colours inspired by: red, yellow, brown, black, white and green.






The Chakana symbol is considered the holiest symbol in the Inca culture that has survived till the present day. It represents the Tree of life and four levels of the world: the underworld, the Earth, the realm and the Gods. The snake, puma and condor are associated with each of these planes respectively. We thought to use this symbol as a batch on the costumes to show their social class giving different colours for different classes respectively. We made a cut out of the Chakana symbol on the paper and tried it out as a batch on costumes.


The COCA leaf. We tried to make head jewellery for the women from royalty depicting the importance of this leaf that is honoured in the Incan culture.


Llamas and Vicuna

These were significantly important animals for sacrifices, food and wool. We want to bring as many as woollen clothing (dupattas, scarfs, blankets) in the costume to symbolize the importance of these animals in their culture. These are some of the symbolic representations that we created on some of our costumes made out of resources available at home.