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.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Feather Tunic
100 BC–700 AD
Cotton, feathers
Overall: 42 × 85 in. (106.7 × 215.9 cm) Mount: 42 5/8 × 85 5/8 × 2 1/8 in. (108.3 × 217.5 × 5.4 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. and Fayez Sarofim in honor of Peter C. Marzio at "One Great Night in November, 2007"

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

[The Merrin Gallery, Inc., New York, before 1983–2007]; purchased by MFAH, 2007.