From the harsh Bolivian highlands to the deserts of Chile to the
coasts of Peru, the Tiwanaku people ruled a vast territory for more
than a thousand years. Then they disappeared abruptly, leaving
behind one of South America's most spectacular archaeological sites.

Unlock the mysteries of this powerful yet little-known culture through
its intricate textiles, bold ceramics, rare gold and silver, and finely
carved wood and stone sculptures. All amazingly well preserved,
these objects reveal a rich culture and a fascinating, sometimes
violent tradition of sacred rituals and human sacrifice.

October 16, 2004 through
January 23, 2005

Denver Art Museum
Snuff trays were used to prepare hallucinogenic drugs for sacrificial rites. The sacrificer,
who holds a severed human head, stands on a stepped structure that recalls Tiwanaku
ceremonial architecture.

Snuff Tray with Sacrificer, A.D. 200-800, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Museo R.P.
Gustavo Le Paige, S.J., San Pedro de Atacama.
The Wari people of central Peru had strong ties to Tiwanaku, and objects from the two
cultures are so similar in style that they’re often confused. This high-ranking Wari figure
wears a tie-dyed tunic and rides in a litter, a platform carried on poles.

Masked Dignitary in a Litter, A.D. 500-900, coastal Peru. The Cleveland Museum of Art,
Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund, 1997.1.
Most gold objects from Tiwanaku were discovered and melted down by later peoples.
This rare gold ornament, probably worn in a headdress or garment, survived for
centuries in the safety of a tomb.

Ornament, 200 B.C.-A.D. 400, Cuzco, Peru. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Purchase, anonymous gift, 1984, 1984.14.
The people of Tiwanaku decorated their surroundings and their bodies with brightly
colored textiles like this four-cornered hat. Many of these objects have maintained their
brilliant colors for over a thousand years.

Four-Cornered Hat, A.D. 400-1000, southern Peru. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New
York. Bequest of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1993, 1994.35.158.
Tiwanaku pottery is known for its precise decoration, but the painted shapes on this drinking cup
are less formal. It was made at a time when the empire’s power had waned.

Kero, A.D. 1000-1200, Moquegua, Peru. Museo Contisuyo, Moquegua.
A beautifully illustrated catalog is
available in the Museum Shop for $40
($36 for members).

For more information, call
Rand African Art
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