Andean peoples carved wood to use it for making benches, oars, poles, idols and, also, representations of their ancestors, that would later inhabit the place where they were destined. They were connecting bodies, hosts of passage and handover rites held at ceremonial centers. The action of time on wood has accentuated the aesthetic mystery of these representations.
Each culture that evolved in present Peru had their own funeral rituals, usually burials containing offerings finely made in different materials, including precious metals, ceramics, wood, shells and bones. In addition, they used to place in tombs objects that the deceased had appreciated in life, as well as food and beverages in an outfit that should accompany the dignitary whether a man or woman in the transit to other levels of reality.
A piece conveying the esthetics of power present in all civilizations, materialized in the staff or scepter. Quite likely an important symbol of power in Chimú society, this delicate and sophisticated scepter shows the carved design of two serpents with feline heads, crowned by a hoop. Hybrid animals express the power of the predator not only in the terrestrial world but also in the world below, bringing together the strength of the terrestrial world and the regenerative power of the underworld below.
In pre-Columbian societies, dead ancestors continued to live in sacred places, and in many cases through their representations made using diverse materials. Although some were carved in wood and, far from decomposing, they fossilized over time. This Chimú wood sculpture represents an ancestor who, finely attired with headdress, earrings and necklace, holds a ceremonial glass with both hands, as if making an offering. Time has eroded these wooden artifacts to infuse them with the mysterious esthetics that amazes us today.