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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
 
 
 
NASCA
Peru
Feather Tunic
100 BC–700 AD
Cotton and feathers

42 x 85 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase funded by Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. and Fayez Sarofim in honor of Peter C. Marzio at "One Great Night in November"

Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, & the Americas

Arts of Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean
 
ABOUT

The Nasca culture lived from 100 BC to AD 700 on the south coast of present-day Peru. They produced amazing textiles that were preserved by the dry desert climate. This brilliantly colored feather tunic was made for a powerful ruler or shaman, a holy man who could communicate with supernatural forces. 

The tunic is decorated on one side with a vivid blue field bordered by orange and green with a radiating border of blue, black, orange, green, and pale pink rectangles. The other side provides a contrasting, vibrant yellow field bordered by black and orange and a checkerboard pattern of colorful squares. These feathers came from exotic parrots and macaws imported from the Amazon rainforest over the treacherous Andes Mountains. The luminous colors were believed to have great transformative power. By wearing this tunic, its owner could fly like a bird, speak with the gods, locate resources, and foresee threats to his people.