Pre-Columbian, Peru, Chimu culture, ca. 1100 to 1470 CE. A beautiful gilded silver roundel with repeated repousse motifs of standing lords and abstract geometric panels that look like clusters of arrows or spears. Each lord wears a tumi headdress, facing outward, and a decorated skirt with a stamped triangular motif. They each hold two items, one in each hand, that look like a smaller tumi and a dangling spherical or disc-shaped object. The roundel is lightly compressed in the center, forming a flat disc. The border is stamped with tiny round dots. This item was made to adorn a tunic. Size: 6.1" W (15.5 cm); 8.5" H (21.6 cm) on included custom stand; 90.7 grams
The Chimu ruled over a wealthy kingdom - their capital city, Chan Chan, is estimated to have had a population of around 30,000 people, which would make it one of the largest cities in the pre-Columbian New World. There also seems to have been dramatic wealth inequality, with the rulers living in enormous compounds while the class of workers who created beautiful metal objects like this one living in cramped quarters with limited access to water. The Chimu were cultural successors to the Moche and continued their tradition of defining social power through conspicuous wealth. When a Chimu monarch lived, they were also a deity; when they died, they retained that status and were buried in a specially constructed compound with a great deal of treasure. Excavated tombs of high status individuals have revealed an incredible array of objects: ceramic pots, huge textile banners, gold and silver jewelry and face masks, ornaments, weapons, and tunics covered with plates made of precious metals like this one.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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