Feathered Panel

Date: A.D. 600–900

Geography: Peru, South Coast

Culture: Wari

Medium: Feathers on cotton fabric

Dimensions: H. 29 × W. 83 7/8 in. (73.66 × 213.04 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Featherwork

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.206.467


This impressive hanging is one of a group of ninety-six discovered accidentally in 1943 near the village of La Victoria in the Churunga Valley near the Ocoña River on Peru’s southern Pacific coast. The panels were placed inside tall decorated ceramic jars in a cache and were well preserved.

This hanging is completely covered with the soft, brilliantly colored feathers of the blue-and-yellow macaw, one of several large parrot species inhabiting the Amazon rainforest in eastern Peru. To create the design of four quadrants, feathers of the same color were individually tied along fiber strings; the feathered strings were then sewn onto the base fabric in overlapping rows starting from the bottom. A detailed study of one hanging revealed that different types of knots were used for tying the feathers to the strings. One type of knot was used for the yellow feathers and another for the blue. In addition, the plant fiber used for making yellow feather strings differed from that used for the blue ones, suggesting that different workshops were involved in the production of feather strings.

The function of the hangings in ancient times is unclear. They may have decorated the walls of important buildings on special occasions. It is also possible that they were buried as precious offerings to the gods and supernatural forces.