By Christiane Clados
A feathered bi-convex headdress of unknown provenance in the Linden-Museum, Stuttgart, likely dates to the Middle Horizon based on an analysis of its central motif. This paper examines iconographic representations from different time periods to provide a relative date for the Stuttgart artifact and to clarify its original function. Special attention is given to the meaning of the central motif, which might be derived from realistically represented depictions or codified representations of Middle Horizon tocapus. The headdress is covered with tiny feathers of turquoise, orange, and black on a yellow background. The feathers come from the throat of the Paradise Tanager, as well as from multiple species of parrots, and were attached to the fabric after the weaving was completed. Three horizontal rows of dice-like motifs decorate the headdress. The central motif consists of a square with four dots in that is repeated in three different color combinations around the headdress (Fig. 1). The headdress originally might have been part of the artificial head of a mummy bundle similar to South Coast examples that are still preserved. Bi-convex headdresses are very common in Wari and Tiwanaku cultures, but also are seen on Nasca ceramics (Fig. 3) and according to Heidi King (personal communication), on Late Moche ceramics as well. Tiwanaku IV phase portrait vases and Wari stone and metal figurines (Pikillaqta) each show highly ranked men with this particular type of headdress (Figs. 2 and 4). Patricia Knobloch suggests that "[...] these particular depictions represent agents belonging to the Tiwanaku social sphere [...]". The central motif of the headdress, a square with four dots, also is found on a Middle Horizon 2A effigy vessel from the Denver Art Museum. In this case, the motif is combined with trophy heads (Fig. 5). Other closely-related motifs include diagonal double motifs with two rings (Figs. 6 and 7) and four dots (Figs. 8 and 9). This motif can be interpreted using two different forms of perception and representation employed during the Middle Horizon. One represents the object realistically while the other seeks to codify the shape of the object in a simplified form. Both traditions exist side by side during the Middle Horizon and are not mutually exclusive. Each tradition offers a possible interpretation of the central motif of the Linden-Museum headdress.
Tribus, 2010, vol. 59, pp. 164-179 [16 page(s) (article)].