1185–1275 (radiocarbon date, 95.4% probability)
Mixed media: wood, gold alloy, pigment, shell inlay
Overall: 60.4 x 95 cm (23 3/4 x 37 3/8 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1952.233
Cinnabar, a toxic mercuric sulfide, was used to color the red background and faces of the figures.
This rare, dramatic object served as the back support of a litter carried by human porters, a mode of transport reserved for honored members of many societies without draft animals or wheeled vehicles. The simple, bold figures—perhaps a Chimú lord and four officials—all wear wide collars, tunics, and crescent headdresses that are either brightly painted or covered with golden but now-corroded sheet metal. The holes at the bottom probably served as lashing points for a beam that supported the litter's seat.
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