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New Met Exhibit to Showcase Ancient Peruvian Feather Hangings

By Victoria Bekiempis | September 6, 2013 7:30am
 The  Metropolitan Museum of Art , located at 1000 Fifth Avenue with East 83rd Street, will feature an exhibition of ancient Peruvian feather artwork
Peruvian Feather Exhibit
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Deep in the Andes, death came with feathers.

An upcoming Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit will show off ancient Peruvian feather works thought to have been used in burial rituals, according to officials.

"Feathered Walls — Hangings from Ancient Peru," is a 12-piece installation of panels crafted by the Wari between 600 and 1000 A.D.

The massive panels — which measure 2 feet by 7 feet — have a woven cotton cloth base but are covered "completely with the small iridescent body feathers of the blue and yellow macaw in a bold design of large rectangles," according to the museum.

Heidi King, a Met researcher curating the show, said the exhibition marks the first time the panels are being shown as they likely were displayed by the Wari.

They also differ from other feathered artifacts as most feathered artworks were items used as clothing — such as in headdresses or earrings, King said.

"They were used to decorate the walls of very special spaces where rituals and ceremonies took place before interment," King said. "They also have long braided ties at the top corners — they were clearly meant to be tied to something."

These panels, recovered by farmers in 1943, at a junction of two valleys on Peru's southernmost coast, were excavated alongside bodies — furthering the funerary thesis, she said.

"Our assumption is that these hangings were displayed inside of this enclosure for very special ceremony prior to being buried in the ground," King said.

The panels, discovered rolled up in large ceramic jars, also constitute part of the largest archeological find of feathered artifacts in Peru, King said.

The exhibition will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave. (with East 83rd Street), from Sept. 16 2013 until March 3 2014.