Feathered Tunic

Cream-colored tunic with stylized birds, cats, and geometric border.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Cream-colored tunic with stylized birds, cats, and geometric border.

Date:

1470/1532

Artist:

Chimú
Peru, south coast, Possibly Nazca Valley,

About this artwork

One of the most extraordinary works in the Art Institute’s archaeological textile collection, this feathered tunic was created by Chimú weavers in northern Peru in 1470/1532. The knee-length, sleeveless garment is composed of a plain-weave cotton cloth completely concealed by thousands of brightly colored feathers. These coveted plumes were taken from macaws, parrots, toucans, cotingas, and tanagers from the tropical forests of South America. Because they were transported across the treacherous peaks of the Andes, the feathers were extremely rare and valuable and would only have been available to the most elite members of pre-Hispanic society. Thus, the feathered tunic—with its stylized felines, birds, and fish—would have been a sumptuous emblem of power, wealth, and prestige. Like many other pre-Hispanic textiles, it was buried with its owner in a subterranean tomb on the southern coast of Peru. The dark and arid conditions in these tombs protected the tunic, thereby allowing its vibrant colors and bold motifs to endure.

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Arts of the Americas

Culture

Chimú

Title

Feathered Tunic

Origin

Peru

Date

1470–1532

Medium

Cotton, plain weave; embellished with feathers knotted and attached with cotton in overcast stitches

Dimensions

85.1 × 86 cm (33 1/2 × 33 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Kate S. Buckingham Endowment

Reference Number

1955.1789

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 .

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