Huari Feather Panel (orange cross), c.800 AD
Huari culture, 30 x 40 cm
The splendorous vivid sheen and striking colour contrasts of this feather Apron (Pechera) is exemplary of the alluring and aesthetic quality of Pre- Colombian feather works. Of universal appeal and unique beauty, feathers have for thousands of years been used by people in all parts of the Andes to adorn themselves, to animate their environment and pay homage to there Gods. Among traditional societies, feathers and objects embellished with feathers also possessed great cultural significance and are imbued with spiritual energies and supernatural celestial forces which would have been summoned in ceremonial rites.
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.
Feathers were a rare and valued commodity imported from the Amazonian basin into the Pacific coastal regions. 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 Andean “cross” has been documented in the arts since Paracas-Ocucajes 400 BC to 100 AD textiles and Tiwanaku (Bolivia) architecture (Bolivia) dating back to 300 BC to AD 300 and gained much speculation from the New Age communities during the 20th century.