Exhibitions/ Art Object

Lenten Curtain

18th century (possibly)
Peru (Chachapoyas), before 1775
Cotton (painted resist and dye)
80.7 x 86.2 in (205 x 218.9 cm)
Credit Line:
American Museum of Natural History, New York
Not on view
Hangings such as this Lenten curtain have long been used in churches during the days preceding Easter. During this solemn time, when worshipers contemplate Christ’s suffering and death, such curtains screen the visual riches of the high altar from the congregation. Jesuits encouraged native artists to participate in decorating colonial churches, and this curtain—painted with local dyes on a locally made hand-spun and -woven cotton base fabric—is one such contribution. In addition to the traditional Christian elements, this version contains unique regional imagery, including the lace edging on the women’s garments, native baskets and tools, and pattern design elements drawn from regional weaving traditions.