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Hair Headdress

Artist/Maker: Inca (Cusco/Central Highlands, Peru)

Date: 1470-1532
Medium: llama wool, dye and human hair
Overall: 46 in. (116.8 cm)
Classification: Clothing, Accessories and Jewelry
Credit Line: Museum purchase through 1987 Acquisition Funds
Object number: 87.0183
DescriptionThe base of this ceremonial headdress is a skullcap made of llama wool, with about four pounds of human hair attached. The hair is woven into 160 braids that hang in two tiers, the longest measuring over a yard in length. In ancient times it was worn only by a high priest during religious services. The significance of hair, which is believed to have a vital link with the life force, dates back to at least the Moche Period (1-700). Among the Inca, a child was not named until after an elaborate ceremony involving hair-cutting. In Peru, modern shamans continue to make use of hair in their curing ceremonies.
Not on view