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Mirror Handle

Arts of the Americas

This exquisitely carved Chimú mirror handle originally held a pyrite mirror in the concave area at the back. The object’s depiction of trophy heads (seen in the hands of the male figure) is rare for the period. The figure’s opulent attire, with a crescent headdress, serpent-headed collar, and sleeved tunic, indicates that he is a member of the ruling elite. Sacrificial victims have been found in high-status burials, and the trophy heads on this object may therefore allude to the status of the mirror’s owner.

Este mango de espejo Chimú exquisitamente tallado, originalmente sostenía un espejo de pirita en el área cóncava posterior. La representación de cabezas trofeo en este objeto (vistas en las manos de la figura masculina) es poco común en este periodo. La opulenta vestimenta de la figura, con un tocado de media luna, collar de serpiente bicéfala, y túnica con mangas, indica que era un miembro de la clase gobernante. Victimas sacrificadas se han encontrado en entierros de alta posición social, por lo que las cabezas trofeo en este objeto podrían aludir al rango del dueño del espejo.
MEDIUM Wood, gold, turquoise, red pigment
  • Place Found: North Coast, Peru
  • DATES ca. 850–1470
    PERIOD Late Intermediate Period
    DIMENSIONS 11 5/8 x 5 9/16 in. (29.5 x 14.1 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden mirror handle with carvings that portray a well-dressed individual, standing on a small pedestal, holding a trophy head in each hand. The individual wears a tunic with sleeves, a crescent-shaped headdress, and a collar with a serpent head. On the figure's tunic, headdress, legs, and elsewhere are triangles in relief. On the handle, collar, and headdress are turquoise bead inlays. Around the inlays are traces of red pigment. The eyes of the central figure as well as the eyes of the trophy heads are inlaid with thin sheets of gold that are covered over with red pigment. In the back of the carving is a shallow circular cavity which probably held a pyrite mirror. Condition: The front of the proper left side of the handle is damaged; the headdress of the central figure is chipped, broken, and repaired; the tunic has two gouges; the hair of each trophy head is chipped along the edges; the end of the handle is cracked. The object reveals overall surface wear.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Chimú. Mirror Handle, ca. 850–1470. Wood, gold, turquoise, red pigment, 11 5/8 x 5 9/16 in. (29.5 x 14.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.224.4. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.224.4_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 86.224.4_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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