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Textile Fragment with Skeletal Figure

Arts of the Americas

The backward-bent pose of this skeletal figure with long, streaming hair and a fan or knife in its hand is associated with sacrificial victims and death. At the throat, a square-shaped wound suggests a decapitation. Alternatively, the figure has been interpreted as the seminal being of a mythic transformation sequence in which supernatural beings evolve into more complex, composite figures such as the Plant Beings seen nearby.
MEDIUM Cotton, camelid fibers
  • Place Found: South Coast, Peru
  • DATES 100 B.C.E.–1 C.E.
    DIMENSIONS frag. a: 7 1/2 x 8 3/4 in. (19.1 x 22.2 cm) frag. b: 6 3/16 x 4 1/2 in. (15.7 x 11.4 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    ACCESSION NUMBER 33.570a-b
    CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Two fragments from a Paracas mantle woven in red and brown with skeletal human figures holding fans or tumi knives. Larger fragment with face is "a"; smaller fragment with full figure is "b".
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Paracas. Textile Fragment with Skeletal Figure, 100 B.C.E.–1 C.E. Cotton, camelid fibers, frag. a: 7 1/2 x 8 3/4 in. (19.1 x 22.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 33.570a-b (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 33.570b_front_PS5.jpg)
    IMAGE component, 33.570b_front_PS5.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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    Paracas. <em>Textile Fragment with Skeletal Figure</em>, 100 B.C.E.–1 C.E. Cotton, camelid fibers, frag. a: 7 1/2 x 8 3/4 in. (19.1 x 22.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 33.570a-b (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 33.570b_front_PS5.jpg)