Art Institute of Chicago, Major Acquisitions Centennial Fund
Not on view
During the Inca Empire, the king gave special garments to favored subjects, signaling status and noble rank. The Spanish also valued monarch-bestowed displays of heritage in the form of coats of arms. Colonial tapestries decorated with Spanish arms were thus among the earliest works commissioned by the Spanish from Andean master weavers known as cumbicamayos, whose skills had once been exclusively available to Inca kings. The large banded coat of arms in this tapestry is said to have belonged to the Spanish Ribera family, whose descendants participated in the initial conquest of Peru and subsequently became an important family in seventeenth-century Lima society.