Peruvian cotton armorial tapestry
Peru, late 18th century
This cotton tapestry combines indigenous and colonial Spanish motifs.
The coat of arms at the centre of the tapestry is European but has not been linked to any known family of the Spanish conquistadors. A central panel is filled with mermaids playing a variety of musical instruments. They are surrounded by lush vegetation, birds and animals representing vitality and fertility.
Surrounding this is a border showing hunters with guns wearing European-style attire. while the outer border represents the Inca nobility. Kings with staffs, headdresses and sun-shaped gold medallions are attended by women holding a pair of wooden drinking beakers or keros.
An architectural feature is represented at the top and bottom of the tapestry, perhaps a church entrance as indicated by the arched windows and columns. The multi-coloured chequered flags flying on the building are mirrored by the banners seen on the keros. This whole scene conveys the spirit of festivity and ceremony which also portrayed on the wooden keros themselves.
Colin McEwan, Ancient American Art in Detail (London, The British Museum Press, 2009)
Inca colonial Length: 244cm