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Backrest of a Litter

Backrest of a Litter

900-1470

Mixed media: wood, gold alloy, pigment, shell inlay

Overall: 60.4 x 95 cm (23 3/4 x 37 3/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1952.233

Description

This rare, dramatic object served as the back support of a litter carried by human porters, a mode of transport reserved for honored members of many societies without draft animals or wheeled vehicles. The simple, bold figures-perhaps a Chimú lord and four officials-all wear wide collars, tunics, and crescent headdresses that are either brightly painted or covered with golden but now-corroded sheet metal. The holes at the bottom probably served as lashing points for a beam that supported the litter's seat. Susan E. Bergh, PhD, Associate Curator, Art of the Ancient Americas, 2002

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