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Miniature Tunic

Arts of the Americas

This exquisite miniature tunic has been woven with the utmost care, with more than two hundred threads per inch. The minuteness of the weave suggests that it is made of vicuña fiber, the finest hair of all the South American camelids. Too small for even a baby, this tunic was likely a devotional object, perhaps placed in the burial of an important personage.

The repeating figure has a human body with a feline head and carries a staff terminating in an eagle or condor head, both symbols of power. Other Wari motifs include the vertical split eye, a teardrop line below the eye that doubles as an animal, and the N-shaped canines.


Esta exquisita túnica miniatura ha sido tejida con sumo cuidado, con sobre doscientas hebras por pulgada. La menudez del tejido sugiere que fue hecho de fibras de vicuña, el pelo más delgado de todos los camélidos de América del Sur. Demasiado pequeña incluso para un bebé, esta túnica era probablemente un objeto de devoción, acaso ubicado en la sepultura de un personaje importante.

La figura repetida tiene cuerpo de humano con una cabeza felina y carga un báculo que termina en la cabeza de un águila o un cóndor, ambos símbolos de poder. Otros motivos Wari incluyen el ojo rasgado vertical, una línea de lágrima bajo el ojo que se dobla como un animal y los caninos en forma de N.
MEDIUM Cotton, camelid fiber
  • Place Found: Peru
  • DATES 500–800
    PERIOD Middle Horizon Period
    DIMENSIONS 8 11/16 x 12 1/2 in. (22.1 x 31.8 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Miniature tunic in single interlock tapestry weave with cotton warps and camelid weft. The thread count is more than 200 threads per inch. This miniature garment with short sleeves was probably a ceremonial textile placed in the tomb of an important personage. The sleeves are too narrow for it to have served as a child's garment. The tunic is decorated with two vertical panels on the front and two on the back that contain composite figures in the act of running. Each figure has a human body, a puma head with condor feathers, and carries a staff terminating in a condor head. The figures are tan, red, blue, yellow, white, purple, and brown on a yellow ground. The remaining parts of the shirt are simple tan panels with red stripes as well as a border at each side containing condor motifs. There is an embroidered rectangular section at the neck. The garment is moderately unstable due to age-related deterioration. Both cotton and camelid fibers have thinned and dried with age. The weaving is very fine and is a visible reminder of how important the person who owned this tunic must have been in Wari society, which was centered in southern Peru. The imagery on this textile relates very closely to the carvings found on the Gateway of the Sun at Tiwanaku near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. It is not precisely known how the imagery migrated to the Wari Empire and it is difficult to discern as no textiles were preserved at Tiwanaku where the climate is inhospitable for perishable items such as cloth.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Wari. Miniature Tunic, 500–800. Cotton, camelid fiber, 8 11/16 x 12 1/2 in. (22.1 x 31.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 71.180. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 71.180_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 71.180_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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