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.
Currently Off View
- Feathered Tunic
- Made 1470–1532
- Cotton, plain weave; embellished with feathers knotted and attached with cotton in overcast stitches
- 85.1 × 86 cm (33 1/2 × 33 7/8 in.)
- Kate S. Buckingham Endowment