Bird-shaped ornament

Nasca artist(s)

Not on view

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.

Bird-shaped ornament, Nasca artist(s), Gold, Nasca

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.