Belt Ornament

Date: 2nd–7th century

Geography: Peru

Culture: Moche

Medium: Copper

Dimensions: H x W: 4 1/2 x 4in. (11.4 x 10.2cm)

Classification: Metal-Ornaments

Credit Line: Bequest of Jane Costello Goldberg, from the Collection of Arnold I. Goldberg, 1986

Accession Number: 1987.394.595


This small hollow ornament is made of a hammered copper sheet folded along the top. Similar ornaments are illustrated in Moche art, attached to the belts of warriors. Here, three suspension loops allowed the object to be attached. The inverted crescent shape of the object recalls the form of tumi knives used in sacrifice ceremonies. The ornament is also identical to metal backflaps illustrated in Moche iconography and discovered in the royal burials at the site of Sipán, on the north coast of Peru. Backflaps were symbolic objects; often tumi-shaped and half silver, half gold, they expressed ideas of sacrifice and dualism. As backflaps, this ornament includes a series of hollow spheres containing clappers that produced sound when the wearer moved.