The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of November 18, 2017

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

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

New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art; January 26- March 29, 1954. "Ancient Arts of the Andes." Reproduced in exhibition catalogue by Wendell Bennett (1954): 120, fig. 137.

Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art; February 23- April 3, 1996. "Treasures of Peruvian Gold."

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

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