Four–Cornered Hat, 5th–9th century
Camelid hair; H. 7 in. (17.8 cm), Diam. 22 3/4 in. (57.8 cm)
Bequest of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1993 (1994.35.158)
Finely woven tunics and four-cornered hats were symbols of prestige in Wari and Tiwanaku societies. Worn by high-status men, these garments were decorated with geometric designs and stylized figurative images depicting staff bearing anthropomorphic figures, animals, and plants central in Wari and Tiwanaku religions. Four-cornered hats are characterized by a square top and pointed tips sometimes adorned with tassels projecting from each corner. While Wari hats often show a smooth, pile surface, hats produced by Tiwanaku weavers generally have knotted surfaces. Although four-cornered hats are present in burials, signs of repeated use such as worn edges, ancient mends, and stains of hair oil indicate that they were worn during life. Hats are also represented in figurative art. A category of Wari sculpted vessels show high-status men with elaborate tapestry tunics taking the stance of the staff-bearing deity and wearing four-cornered hats. Two of the most important Tiwanaku stone sculptures, the Ponce and Bennett Monoliths discovered in the ceremonial core of the ancient city of Tiwanaku, represent elaborately dressed elite figures wearing square headdresses that resemble four-cornered hats.