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Style and media in Chimú art: researching the British Museum’s collections

Halliday, Kirsten Maclean; (2018) Style and media in Chimú art: researching the British Museum’s collections. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This research examines changes in craft production on the North Coast of Peru between c.AD1000 and 1550, under first Chimú and then Inka state control. It aims to assess the extent to which North Coast craft production was appropriated and deployed by the Chimú and Inka elites to disseminate state-sponsored iconography. Previous studies of craft production and the role of prestige goods in the political economy are reviewed. From this basis I develop a methodology to identify and compare the technical and aesthetic qualities of Chimú objects made using different craft media (primarily textiles and pottery). The British Museum’s collections provide the primary database for this research, complemented by Peruvian collections from more secure archaeological contexts. The production sequence for each artefact is systematically recorded in order to pinpoint how the iconography is incorporated into the object and to compare the steps involved. This allows me to investigate the extent to which technical principles and artisanal attitudes (or agency) interact in the production of goods. My goal is to discern those Chimú traits which result from engrained North Coast craft-working traditions from those that are influenced by state-imposed demands. The focus on Chimú-Inka material permits an evaluation of Chimú artisanal agencies under Inka rulership. In fact ‘Chimú’ iconographies and technical traits were spread widely during the Inka period, reaching far beyond the boundaries of the former Chimú Empire. The Chimú visual vocabulary was adapted, in some cases merging with highland canons and occasionally with the overt imposition of Inka forms on Chimú vessels and garments, as well as a more subtle rendering of Inka imagery in Chimú techniques. I argue that particular combinations of materials, techniques, imagery and colour characterise ‘lines’ of goods which played different roles in North Coast society. Chimú and Inka influences were in some sense reciprocal, and require a more nuanced understanding of ‘state control’.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Style and media in Chimú art: researching the British Museum’s collections
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10043865
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