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Museum purchase, William H. Noble Bequest Fund
The Chimu kings were warriors, conquerors, and great architects. Burials of high-ranking individuals were extraordinarily rich with tombs containing objects of gold and silver. Although Chimu pottery has been found in great quantity, objects of wood are comparitively rare.
Shrine figures may have been carried with Chimu kings in ceremonial processions or the undecorated bottom section might have been planted in the ground at a shrine; This particular example stands poised, ready to play a flute. The red cinnabar on the face suggests a funerary context. The rippled headdress, necklace, earflares, and zigzag loincloth together form geometric patterns that echo the architectural reliefs found at Chan Chan, the capital of the Chimu kingdom and the largest city ever built in ancient Peru.