When the Spanish landed on the coast of what is today Peru in 1532, they encountered the socially complex, artistically vibrant Inca Empire, whose vast, geographically diverse domain encompassed almost the entire length of the rugged Andes. Inca master weavers and metalsmiths, building on thousands of years of local artisanal mastery, had created a spectacular body of imperial art whose bold, mostly geometric designs were powerful expressions of Inca identity and sovereignty. Within one generation that culture had been forever transformed by the establishment of the viceroyalty of Peru. The remarkable exchange of cultures that ensued brought Europe and the New World together through a vibrant trade in goods, services, and ideas, creating a unique society that was richer and far more intriguing than the mere sum of its influences.
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