Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mirror Frame

Date:
9th–12th century
Geography:
Peru
Culture:
Wari-Chimú
Medium:
Wood
Dimensions:
H.10 1/4 x W. 5 1/4in. (26 x 13.3cm)
Classification:
Wood-Implements
Credit Line:
Gift of Joyce and Ted Strauss, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.428
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 357
The imagery and carving style of this mirror frame suggest that it was made by the northern Chimú people when influences from the southern Wari culture were present. Carved from a single piece of fine-grained wood, the square frame shows a profile human figure standing on a balsa raft. The raft is zoomorphic with fanged profile animal heads—possibly mythological—at its prow and stern. The figure, with plumed headdress and a belt/loincloth ending in animal heads, holds a tumi (ceremonial knife) in his right hand and a war club in his left. The split handle of the knife is decorated with the same zoomorphic heads. A puzzling feature is the long L-shaped projection emanating from the figure's mouth below the grotesque extended nose. The boat scene is a frequent theme in Chimú art; it appears on textiles, ceramics, metalwork, and architectural reliefs. It reflects the importance of the sea and maritime activity to the Chimú. The frame was probably once covered with thin sheet gold or silver attached with tiny silver nails, many of which remain.

Four three-dimensional broad-faced heads extend up from the frame. Carved with considerable detail and naturalism, stylistically they relate to the Wari sculpting tradition. The eyes and headbands originally were inlaid possibly with semiprecious stone and/or shell. The back of the frame has a shallow round cavity in the center for the mirror, probably made of pyrite, anthracite, or obsidian. It is now missing.
[Alan C. Lapiner, Arts of the Four Quarters, Ltd., New York, until 1976]; Joyce R. Strauss, Denver, CO, 1976–1995

Related Objects

Mirror Frame

Artist: Date: 9th–12th century
Accession Number: 1995.428
Date: 9th–12th century Medium: Wood Accession: 1995.428 On view in:Gallery 357

Prisoner Lime Container

Artist: Date: 6th–9th century
Accession Number: 1977.376
Date: 6th–9th century Medium: Wood, bone inlay, paint Accession: 1977.376 On view in:Gallery 357

Tupu (pin)

Artist: Date: Before 17th century
Accession Number: 64.228.703
Date: Before 17th century Medium: Silver Accession: 64.228.703 On view in:Not on view

Tupu

Artist: Date: Before 17th century
Accession Number: 64.228.702
Date: Before 17th century Medium: Silver Accession: 64.228.702 On view in:Not on view

Hammered Silver Mirror Back (?)

Artist: Date: 11th–mid-16th century
Accession Number: 64.228.677
Date: 11th–mid-16th century Medium: Silver (hammered), gilt Accession: 64.228.677 On view in:Not on view