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A colorful journey on the Inca route in the heart of Montréal

We often imagine the Inca with heavy gold and silver necklaces. That’s not exactly correct!

And this is what we will discover in a magnificent exhibition, "The Incas...Treasures of Peru", where weavings, considered to be art by the Incas, dazzles visitors.

Fabric is gold 

Indeed, for the Inca, fabric was much more valuable than gold or silver. Furthermore, to them, gold, even though it is considered to be a precious material, only has a symbolic function and did not serve as an exchangeable currency, unlike textiles.

Fabric is also a way for them to display their social position. A symbol of power and identity, fabric is also used as an offering to the gods and as gift during diplomatic exchanges.

Visitors are presented with magnificent pieces from six pre-Columbian civilizations: the Paracas, the Nasca, the Mochicas, the Chimus and the Chancays. All of these societies influenced the Inca Empire and, over the centuries, incorporated similar patterns into their craft and other productions. These patterns have even been discovered in a large format on the famous Nasca geoglyphs!

A world of feathers

Feathers decorate many objects made by the people of Peru because they represent the essential world of the gods. Consequently, feathers serve to decorate their representatives on earth: kings, warriors, and victims of sacrifices.

Peruvians do not skimp on the colors! They go so far as to alter the color of a feather at its base by controlling the bird’s diet, or by applying substances to the bird’s skin using a technique called tapirage.

Textiles to take the census

They also use a system of fabric threads, the quipu, to count the population, record crops and the payment of tributes and to keep genealogical data. It’s indeed an ingenious accounting system!

Where we will die standing ... or almost

We are also given an overview of the funeral rites of the Mochicas, where the bodies, placed in a fetal or seated position, are wrapped in several layers of tissue (called fardo). The dry and arid climate does the rest and contributes to natural mummification. In 1987, excavations in Sipan, in northern Peru, uncovered an important Mochica funerary complex and the exhibition presents some replicas of the mummies that were discovered then. A delicate gauze mantilla with feline heads used to retain hair and also used as the first textile to cover the deceased during Chancays funeral rites is also on exhibition.

Thanks to almost 300 pieces of feather creations, textiles, ceramics and ritual objects, some of which date back more than 2000 years, visitors can discover a civilization that has inspired ingenious artists and craftsmen, where photos and videos lead in discovering snippets of the daily lives of the Incan civilization.

For an amazing trip to the heart of Peru, without hurting your budget, you have until April 13, 2020 to visit this exceptional exhibition presented at the Pointe-à-Callières Museum, in partnership with the Brussels Art & History Museum.

Christiane Théberge


 

Poncho made of feathers with two feline faces illustrate duality, a fundamental principle inherited from the pre-Incan people

Textile border with fringes

A quipu for the census

A Paracas coat decorated with felines 

Inca imperial feather headdress

 

   

 

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