Gold capacocha figurine
Peru, 13th-16th century
Miniature figurines wrought in hammered gold were handed over as offerings to accompany human sacrifices during the ritual of capacocha, meaning royal sin or obligation.
Capacocha took place upon the death of an Inca king and were used to incorporate new territory into the rapidly expanding empire.
The local lords of subject ethnic groups were required to select and send to Cusco unblemished children representing the ideal of human perfection. Here, the children were married and presented with sets of miniature human and llama figurines in gold, silver, copper and shell.
The male figures have elongated earlobes and a braided headband or llauto while the female figurines wore their hair in plaited in different ways. Both male and female figurines hold their hands clasped to their chests in a gesture of supplication or reverence.
The children and their offerings were then returned to their original communities, where they were honoured before being sacrificed to the mountain gods.
Colin McEwan, Ancient American Art in Detail (London, The British Museum Press, 2009)
Inca Colonial Height: 6cm