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A Profusion of Blue and Yellow Feathers

Blue and yellow macaws. Image: By Arpingstone at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

The panels on view in the exhibition Feathered Walls: Hangings from Ancient Peru were created by the Wari peoples of southern Peru. Their makers hand-knotted blue and yellow macaw feathers one by one onto cotton and camelid hair using slipped overhand knots. The strings of feathers were then sewn in horizontal rows onto large cotton panels.

The panels are so tightly sewn that at first you can't tell what they're made from; they look like they could each be a single piece of fabric dyed with different colors. It’s fascinating that all the colors are so vibrant yet not dyed.

Macaw feathers were highly valued from the seventh to the tenth century. Since the Wari peoples did not have a written language, the making of these panels and other portable art objects was a way to express and preserve their thoughts. These panels were therefore very valuable and were rolled up and stored in three- to four-foot-high ceramic vessels to protect them. It's amazing to see how they are so well preserved and that the colors haven't faded.

This exhibition is a must-see and will change your perception of feathers, so be sure to stop by and see it before it closes on March 2, 2014.

Related Links
The Wari People
Making Feather Panels

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