Wari People – Feathered Hanging

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Wari People, Feathered Hanging (7th-8th century, Peru) Feathers on cotton, camelid hair On view in Feathered Walls: Hangings from Ancient Peru, Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 16, 2013–May 12, 2014

 

One of the more striking sights from my trip to New York City was this feathered hanging from the 7th or 8th century. Made out of parrot feathers by the Wari people, an empire based in the Andes, it is mind bogglingly contemporary with its crisp geometry and saturated color. I was amazed both by how well preserved it was and by its seemingly minimalist aesthetic. Of course, these objects were likely used and viewed quite unlike minimalist art. Accompanying wall text explains that “because the Wari, like other ancient Andean peoples, did not use a writing system, they [the hangings] also played an important role in expressing, recording, and preserving concepts about the human, natural, and supernatural realms.” They are certainly powerful and beautiful, no matter what they meant then or now.

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