Ocucaje Shirt with Figure
c.300 BC, Paracas Culture
Wool Loop Knit , 70 x 60 cm
This shamanic surrealistic figure of the Ocucaje Oculate Deity is an essential iconography of Pre-Columbian arts in the southern Ica Valley of Peru, charactersied by its highly stylised frontal body and daring expression.
The arts of the Andes are renowned for its surreal and versatile rendering of earthly beings, which is connected to the Andes’ ritual belief. In the Pre-Columbian cosmology, human and other zoomorphic beings are equally transformative and spiritual, who serve as mortal forms of the divine nature.
Most scholars view the kneeling monkey as the prototype for later further stylised developments. The Monkey is a revered icon from the Amazonian tropical lowlands and was later known by dwellers in the coastal area. As James Reid wrote: “these figures possess ‘quasi-human faces,’ as well as antics and social behaviour that ‘foster the projection of human qualities and personae upon them.” With a sense of wonderment and awe, these images foreshadow how surrealists in the later centuries perceive the world as the manifestation of bewilderment, metamorphosis and mystery.