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Four-Cornered Hat

Arts of the Americas

While square hats are characteristic of the Wari culture, they are usually made of camelid fibers. On this hat, feathers have been attached to a cloth and reed foundation and cut into a mosaic design to create a headdress of exceptional brilliance and beauty. The motifs are similar to those found on fiber hats and other Wari textiles: profile feline heads alternate with a four-part design composed of squares and triangles, repeated on all four sides. The Wari, like other ancient Andean peoples, valued tropical forest birds for their bright, iridescent plumage. They probably considered feathered garments such as mantles, tunics, and headdresses to be high-prestige items because feathers and live birds had to be imported from the distant Amazon jungle. This headdress with vivid mosaic work was probably worn for ceremonial occasions.
MEDIUM Cotton, reed, feathers
  • Place Found: South Coast, Peru
  • DATES 650–1000
    PERIOD Middle Horizon Period
    DIMENSIONS 6 11/16 x 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (17 x 14 x 14 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Square-shaped hat of woven cotton cloth over a reed frame decorated with multicolored mosaic feather-work. The feathers were glued to thin bark or fiber cloth and cut precisely into the required shapes. Then they were glued to the fiber cloth stretched over the reed framework. The design consists of crested jaguar heads that alternate with step patterns and triangles contained in squares. The design on the top of the hat is four triangles with step frets within. Condition: good; some losses.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Wari. Four-Cornered Hat, 650–1000. Cotton, reed, feathers, 6 11/16 x 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (17 x 14 x 14 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 41.228. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 41.228_overall_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 41.228_overall_PS9.jpg., 2018
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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