Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Feathered Panel

7th–8th century
Feathers on cotton fabric
H. 29 × W. 83 7/8 in. (73.66 × 213.04 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
The feathered textiles of Peru are among the most luxurious textile products of the ancient world. Each feather is individually sewn to a cotton base-fabric, and the surfaces are thus built up to a soft, downy skin of radiant color. The feathers of tropical birds, from the Amazon jungles in eastern Peru, made the most brilliantly colored textiles, and the intense blues, greens, reds, and yellows were highly prized. The showy feathers were used in the fabrication of luxury items of all sorts, from objects as small as ear ornaments to those as large as these hangings, which have an average size of two by seven feet. The blue-and yellow-feathered textiles were made of macaw feathers, and it is presumed that they were used to decorate the walls of large compounds or courts on special occasions. A group of feathered hangings, to which this one belongs, were accidentally discovered in the early 1940s, when a large cache of ninety-six of them was reported in a find near the Ocoña River in southern Peru. The textiles had been rolled and placed in large decorated ceramic jars that were more than three feet high. The jars were then left between the walls of what was said to be "concentric circles." Offerings on this scale, often involving large amounts of decorated pottery, are known from other sites on the southern coast. The offerings were not made to accompany the dead, but rather functioned in some other dedicatory or supplicatory manner.
[Louis Slavitz, New York, until 1956]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1956, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1956–1978

Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, 514.

Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.

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