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Peruvian Featherworks: Art of the Precolumbian Era

Peruvian Featherworks: Art of the Precolumbian Era

King, Heidi, with essays by Mercedes Delgado, Mary Frame, Christine Giuntini, Johan Reinhard, Ann Pollard Rowe, and Santiago Uceda
2012
232 pages
200 illustrations
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Of universal appeal and unique beauty, feathers have for thousands of years been used by people in all parts of the world to adorn themselves and to animate their environment. Among traditional societies, feathers and objects embellished with feathers also have great cultural value and are imbued with spiritual energy and supernatural force. The feather arts of ancient Peru have been little investigated.

This publication summarizes what is currently known—on the basis of iconography, technical data, and the archaeological record—about this exquisite and unusual art form. The first essay surveys significant discoveries by archaeologists and reviews the evidence of featherworking in most of the known major Andean traditions: Paracas, ca. 600–100 bce; Nasca, ca. 100 bce–700 ce; Moche, ca. 100–800; Wari, ca. 600–1000; Sicán, Chancay, Chimú, ca. 1000–1470; and Inca, 1430–1534. Five essays by noted archaeologists and textile specialists explore important documented finds. These include rare discoveries such as male and female figurines wearing miniature feather headdresses, discovered on the summit of Mount Llullaillaco, the world's highest archaeological site; and a woman shaman inside an enormous bird-shaped effigy wrapped in a brilliantly colored feather shroud, found in the Inca Valley on Peru's South Coast. An essay on featherworking techniques and conservation further elucidates the subject. The plate section features nearly seventy examples of the feather arts predominantly from important museum collections—garments, headdresses, ornaments, and ritual objects—some ravishing, others charming and witty, many previously unpublished.

Met Art in Publication

Feathered Panel, Feathers on cotton, camelid hair, Wari
Wari
600–900 CE
Border Fragment, Cotton, camelid hair, Paracas
Paracas
450–175 BCE
Feathered Panel, Feathers on cotton, camelid hair, Wari
Wari
7th–9th century
Rattle bowl with flying figure (Oculate Being), Paracas artist(s), Ceramic, post-fire paint, Paracas
350 BCE–60 CE
Miniature Tunic, Cotton, feathers, Ica
Ica
12th–13th century
Feathered Tabard, Cotton, feathers, Inca
Inca
13th–14th century
Feathered Tabard, Cotton, feathers, Chimú
Chimú
15th–16th century
Feathered Tunic, Cotton, feathers, Chimú
Chimú
15th–early 17th century
Feathered Tunic, Cotton, feathers, Wari
Wari
13th–14th century
Feathered Headdress, Chimú artist(s), Feathers, cotton, rope, Chimú
15th–early 17th century
Miniature Dress, Cotton, feathers, Ica
Ica
12th–13th century
Miniature Dress, Ica artist, Cotton, feathers, Ica
12th–13th century
Miniature Dress, Cotton, feathers, Ica
Ica
12th–13th century
Miniature Tunic, Cotton, feathers, Ica
Ica
12th–13th century
Miniature Tunic, Cotton, feathers, Ica
Ica
12th–13th century
Miniature Tunic, Cotton, feathers, Ica
Ica
12th–13th century
Feathered Bag, Cotton, feathers, Inca
Inca
15th–early 16th century
Feathered Crown, Feathers (Paradise Tanager, Macaw), cotton, skin, cane, copper, Chimú
Chimú
14th–15th century
Scepter wand with feathers, Silver, feathers, Chimú or Chancay
Chimú or Chancay
13th–15th century
Sling Shot with Shells, Shell, cotton, beads, wood, Chimú or Chancay
Chimú or Chancay
14th–15th century

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Citation

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King, Heidi, and Ma Mercedes Delgado Pérez. 2012. Peruvian Featherworks: Art of the Precolumbian Era. New York : New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Distributed by Yale University Press.