Quantcast

Bird Ornament

Date:
1st–2nd century
Geography:
Peru
Culture:
Nasca
Medium:
Gold
Dimensions:
H. 4 7/8 x W. 4 3/4 in. (12.4 x 12.1 cm)
Classification:
Metal-Ornaments
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
1979.206.512
  • Description

    Compared to the large quantities of spectacular metal objects found in lavish elite burials of Peru's Moche people, the tombs of the contemporary Nazca people of the south have yielded few gold objects. Usually of simple design and technique such as these sheet gold ornaments, perhaps made to embellish textiles, representations share similarities with the imagery painted on Nazca ceramics. Here the creature may depict a composite supernatural that has been called a "cat demon" or a "trophy head taster." The distinctive wavy lines on the tail feathers identify the body, wings, and tail as those of a falcon, while the head and rear paws are thought to be of a feline, perhaps the pampas cat often portrayed with a protruding tongue. Versions of this figure on Nazca ceramics commonly wear feline mouth masks with long whiskers ending in loops. The spirals flanking the tongue on the present ornaments may be a reference to the feline mouth mask.

  • Provenance

    [John Wise Ltd., New York, until 1957]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1957, on loan to the Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1957–1978

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
312722

Close