Ceremonial Knife (Tumi)

Gold knife with figure on handle, round turquoise inlays on crown
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • Gold knife with figure on handle, round turquoise inlays on crown

Date:

A.D. 1100/1470

Artist:

Chimú
North coast, Peru

About this artwork

Naymlap, the heroic founder-colonizer of the Lambayque Valley on the north coast of Peru, is thought to be the legendary figure represented on the top of this striking gold tumi (ceremonial knife). It would have been carried by dynastic rulers during state ceremonies to represent, in a more precious form, the copper knives used for animal sacrifices. Here Naymlap stands with his arms to his abdomen and his feet splayed outward. His gold headdress has an elaborate open filigree design. Turquoise—for the peoples of ancient Peru, a precious gem related to the worship of water and sky—is inlaid around the headdress cap and in the ear ornaments. The tumi was made with diverse metalworking techniques. Solid casting was used to produce the blade. The face and body were created with annealing (heating, shaping, and then cooling) and repoussé, in which the relief design is hammered into a mold from the reverse side. Finally, the small ornaments around the top of the headdress were separately hammered or cast, then soldered into place. This tumi and many other gold, silver, and textile objects were made in royal workshops and ceremonially presented to high officials as emblems of rank and authority.

On View

Arts of the Americas, Gallery 136

Artist

Chimú

Title

Ceremonial Knife (Tumi)

Origin

North Coast

Date

1100–1470

Medium

Gold with turquoise inlay

Dimensions

34 × 12.7 cm (13 3/8 × 5 in.)

Credit Line

Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment

Reference Number

1963.841

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share