Wood, cinnabar, metal and textile, mounted on a steel base

“Andean cultures are located close to some of the most arid deserts in the world, and perhaps the natural mummification that ancient peoples there observed inspired them to adapt their mortuary practices to augment natural processes. In many cultures of the region, bodies were carefully prepared to last for centuries or millennia, and were buried with elaborate offerings, always including large quantities of textiles. Since bodies were usually buried in an upright fetal position (with head on knees), when wrapped with layers and layers of lavish textiles, the mummy bundles did not have a clear head to act as a focal point for veneration. Therefore, “false heads” of wrapped textiles were created for the top of such bundles, and in some cases wooden masks, showing a stylized face, were tied on to such bundles. For the Chancay people, these were not portraitlike, but had very simplified features, with wide, diamond-shaped eyes and long straight noses.”

– The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore