Feathered Tabard

Date: 15th–early 17th century

Geography: Peru

Culture: Ica (?)

Medium: Cotton, feathers

Dimensions: H. 30 × W. 25 in. (76.2 × 63.5 cm)

Classification: Feathers-Costumes

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1959

Accession Number: 59.135.8


Open-sided tunics called tabards were probably worn over other clothing on special ceremonial occasions. The small bright green, red, yellow, and blue feathers on this tabard are used not as separate decorations on the cloth, but as a medium to create the colorful mosaic. The design is unusual and not known on other works. The four figures with spread wings and tails may represent frontal views of birds wearing crescent headdresses. They have anthropomorphic faces with toothy mouths, noses, and staring eyes; they probably depict supernatural beings.

The tabard is longer than it is wide, and the warp-predominant plain-woven cotton cloth with a woven-in neck slit suggests that it probably was found on the south coast, where conditions for the preservation of organic materials are favorable.