Arts of the Americas
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, From Colonies to States, 1660–1830
After the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire and the establishment of the Viceroyalty of Peru, female members of the Indigenous elite wore elaborate tupus, or pins, as a sign of their social status and descent from Inca royalty. All three seen here incorporate European iconography into an Indigenous art form. Made of gold, silver, copper, or bronze, Inca tupus were a basic element of female attire, used to secure dresses and shawls. Larger ones, such as the center example with a flat shaft, were worn in matching pairs suspended from the neck so the disk-shaped heads covered the chest.
During the colonial period, European techniques of repoussé and engraving were introduced. Repoussé, which is raised relief produced by hammering on the reverse, is seen in the two examples at the left, with heraldic rampant felines and a stylized urn with grapes. The tupu at the right is engraved with the double-headed eagle of the Hapsburg Empire, which ruled Europe, Spain, and, by extension, Spain’s colonies in the Americas until the early nineteenth century.
Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund
Large, disk-shaped pin with an engraved double-headed eagle of the Habsburg Empire surrounded by floral designs (far right in photo). Used by Andean women to secure their dresses and shawls.
Pin (Tupu), 18th century. Silver alloy, 8 1/16 x 4 7/8in. (20.5 x 12.4cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund, 41.1275.241. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 41.1275.238_41.1275.241_41.1275.242_PS6.jpg)
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