Tunic Frontal (with Tail Motif), Huari Culture, 800 AD
110 x 116cm
This rare and almost complete tunic was created so acutely stylised and abstracted that the figures are essentially unrecognisable, perhaps in a deliberate attempt by the elite to monopolise their interpretation. Abstract figures distorted almost beyond recognition may also be an attempt to represent the shamanic transformation and drug-induced trance consciousness which were part of Wari religious ceremonies.
In the Wari and Tiwanaku civilisations, images from stone carvings were repeated, abstracted, compressed, and expanded, emphasising the rectilinear and thus imperial power and its ability to order the world. The pattern on this tunic, a profile face with a vertical split eye and crossed fangs, and an inverted stepped fret motif, is a unique Huari design.