Embroidered Panel

500-100 BC (made)
Embroidered Panel thumbnail 1
Embroidered Panel thumbnail 2
+2
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 1920s graves were excavated in the Paracas peninsula on the south coast of Peru. They revealed seated bodies (the traditional form of burial) in baskets wrapped in several large shrouds to form a bundle. Amongst the shrouds were sets of embroidered garments, some of which were unfinished.

This small panel, originally part of a garment or burial cloth, is typical of the embroideries found. It shows a shaman or witch doctor clutching a severed head in one hand and an axe and sacrificial knife in the other. This ferocious 'trophy-head' cult also featured cats and monkeys. The contorted shape of the main figure, whose head almost touches the ground, and the grimace on the face of the beheaded victim adds to the startling nature of the design.

The embroidery is in stem stitch in wool on a cotton background. The makers of these early embroideries were the first in Peru to use wool extensively and realise its potential for creating designs (wool can be dyed easily and so a large variety of colours are possible).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wool embroidery on wool
Brief Description
Embroidered panel of a figure holding a severed head, Peru (Paracas peninsula), 500-100 BC
Physical Description
Panel of embroidery with an anthropomorphic figure and a severed head.
Dimensions
  • Length: 11cm
  • Width: 8.5cm
Style
Production
Middle or Late Paracas period
Subjects depicted
Summary
In the 1920s graves were excavated in the Paracas peninsula on the south coast of Peru. They revealed seated bodies (the traditional form of burial) in baskets wrapped in several large shrouds to form a bundle. Amongst the shrouds were sets of embroidered garments, some of which were unfinished.



This small panel, originally part of a garment or burial cloth, is typical of the embroideries found. It shows a shaman or witch doctor clutching a severed head in one hand and an axe and sacrificial knife in the other. This ferocious 'trophy-head' cult also featured cats and monkeys. The contorted shape of the main figure, whose head almost touches the ground, and the grimace on the face of the beheaded victim adds to the startling nature of the design.



The embroidery is in stem stitch in wool on a cotton background. The makers of these early embroideries were the first in Peru to use wool extensively and realise its potential for creating designs (wool can be dyed easily and so a large variety of colours are possible).
Collection
Accession Number
T.71-1933

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record createdJune 18, 2004
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