Backrest of a Litter

Backrest of a Litter


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


Did you know?

Cinnabar, a toxic mercuric sulfide, was used to color the red background and faces of the figures.


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.


Riding in Style
How It Was Made
See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email