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The Virgin Mary with Indian Donors

American Art

Caciques, like their peninsular Spanish and Creole noble counterparts, commissioned paintings for their homes of themselves worshipping at the feet of Our Lady or patron saints. In the painting of the Virgin of the Expectation, inscribed in Spanish “Don Mariano Pina, founder and majordomo of the Chunchos,” three Aymara men, whom the Spaniards regarded as indios amigos, or friendly Indians, are dressed as Chunchos, an indigenous highland group with an aggressive reputation. The clue to their true ethnicity is the one female donor, presumably Pina’s wife, who wears Aymara textiles. Briefly assuming the dance and dress of militaristic Chunchos in festivals allowed the Aymara to act in a way that was normally discouraged by Spanish authorities.


Los caciques, como sus contrapartes españoles peninsulares y nobles criollos, encargaban para sus casas pinturas de sí mismos a los pies de Nuestra Señora o de santos patronos. En la pintura de la Virgen de la Esperanza con la inscripción en español “Don Mariano Pina, fundador y mayordomo de los chunchos,” se representa a tres hombres aimara, a quienes los españoles consideraban como indios amigos, vestidos como chunchos, un grupo de indígenas de las tierras altas de reputación agresiva. La clave de su verdadera etnia es una donante femenina, presumiblemente la esposa de Pina, quien viste textiles aimara. La breve adopción de danza y ropas militares de los chunchos durante festivales, permitía a los aimaras actuar de manera normalmente no permitida por las autoridades españolas.

MEDIUM Oil on wood panel
  • Place Made: La Paz, Bolivia
  • DATES 1752
    DIMENSIONS panel: 10 1/4 x 7 9/16 x 3/8 in. (26 x 19.2 x 1 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS Painted at bottom center: "Dn Mariano Pina Fonda- / dor y mayor-ad-Lascni / chosya badades y a Aront"
    COLLECTIONS American Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 41.1275.225
    CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION The Virgin Mary with Indian Donors, 1752. Oil on wood panel, panel: 10 1/4 x 7 9/16 x 3/8 in. (26 x 19.2 x 1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund, 41.1275.225
    IMAGE overall, 41.1275.225_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
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    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (89%)
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