Huari Feather Tunic (rainbow colour), c.800 AD
Huari culture, c.800 AD
Plain weave with applied feathers, 132 x 175 cm
This well preserved and alluring tunic with its salmon pink ground hues has a softness not often seen in feather textiles, Of universal appeal and unique beauty, feathers have for thousands of years been used by people in all parts of the Andeas to adorn themselves and to animate their environment. Among traditional societies, feathers and objects embellished with feathers also have great cultural value and are imbued with spiritual energy and supernatural force.
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.
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.