Feather Tunic (yellow), c.800 AD
Plain weave with applied feathers , 200 x 145 cm
Feathers are a rare and valued commodity imported from the Amazonian basin. The journey in those times to collect the bundles from the forest tribes was not only arduous but also perilous. Such feathers being a great luxury were only worn by the dignitaries, priests, and warlords as symbols of status and power. The force and impact of the images created by this method was such that their production was outlawed by the conquering Spaniards, who feared their inherent religious power and their potential for rallying an indigenous opposition to their rule of the Andes.
From an aesthetic point of View, Andean feathers works speak more eloquently for themselves than a thousand words. It should, however, be pointed out that their sacredness was not a function of their rarity but rather, by association with the Celestial messenger, the Condor —Eagle, the wearer shared the supernatural powers of this divine intercessor, guide of the souls to the mystical realm of light. Mantles of such work also adorned the temples, the deities and the palaces.