Gold and the Incas is the most important survey of Peruvian art ever staged in Australia and will showcase the splendour of the ancient pre-Hispanic cultures of Peru. Audiences will encounter the aesthetic depth, drama and beauty of the famous Incan empire and its predecessors.
More than 200 objects, from scintillating gold pieces made to decorate the nobility in life or in death, intricate jewellery, elaborate embroidered and woven cloths to breathtakingly sophisticated ceramic sculptures will be on display.
For more than 2,000 years before the Spanish came to Peru, great cultures rose and fell, were conquered by others or absorbed into them. Almost every artefact that survives was buried with their owners, to be re-discovered in modern times.
Gold and silver were plundered by the Conquistadors, sent to Spain and melted down to make coins. But in the last 100 years there have been extraordinary archaeological finds, and much scientific research is occurring today. Sites such as Sipán and Chan Chan, Piura and Lambayeque have their own museums, and have generously lent some of their greatest treasures to the National Gallery of Australia.
Many extraordinary objects will be on view which belong to the Larco, Oro and Amano museums in Lima, all founded by Peruvian archaeologists and collectors, while the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History has a central role in national life.
As well as being highly-skilled metalworkers, potters and weavers, the artisans of Peruvian civilisation included in their works religious and political ideas based on the importance of the natural world. Lively depictions of animals, birds and fish decorate the works of art.
Technological inventions such as the knotted string quipu provide a new outlook on the sophisticated world of the Incas. The Chavín, Nazca, Moche and Chimú cultures were eventually overcome by Inca warriors in the decades after 1400, themselves to be conquered by the Spanish in 1533.
Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru
National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes (Canberra)
Exhibition: 6 December 2013 – 21 April 2014
Entry fees apply
For more information, visit: www.nga.gov.au for details.
Image: SICÁN-LAMBAYEQUE culture North coast 750–1375 AD Tumi [Sacrifical knife] gold, silver, chrysocolla, turquiose, lapis lazuli, spondylus; Museo Oro del Perú, Lima © Photograph Daniel Giannoni