This is an amazing collection of NINE precious silver and tumbaga gold objects of the ancient Pre-Columbian Chimu Indians dating to a period from 800-1200 A.D.. Since silver was not found in alluvial deposits like gold, it was often considered more precious and scarce. As the Chimu worshipped the Moon, they most likely placed a special importance on silver objects representing the cool moonbeams of a full moon at night.
All of these items would have been ritual ceremonial items reserved for only the highest wealth class. There are two spoons, two pins, two fragments of a cuff bracelet, a fragment of a face mask, a silver wrap that would have covered a sceptor and a tumbaga gold sheet that looks to be from a crown or from the radiant headdress of a statue. All of these items came from the same collection but it's impossible to say if they were found together. Silver and gold Chimu hammered metalwork is scarce and it has been years since we had any items to offer but this collection is amazing as it has 9 different items of prestige and ritual, in one set!
It is interesting to note that you can see evidence of wrapping in the patina of the tubed up sheet that would have covered a staff. There are also attachment holes on one end. The radiant crown sheet in tumbaga gold shows evidence of it being attached to another piece or figure. A silver wash patina that might have been covered when this crown piece was once attached, is evident on what would have been the back side. This was probably a radiant crown on a large ritualistic tumi figure god.
The Chimú culture arose about 900 AD, succeeding the Moche culture, and was later conquered by the Inca emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui around 1470, fifty years before the arrival of the Spanish in the region. The Chimu culture was centered on Chimor with the capital city of Chan Chan, a large adobe city in the Moche Valley of present-day Trujillo, Peru. The Chimú occupied a strip of desert on the north coast of Peru. The rivers in the region carved a series of fertile valley plains, which were very flat and well-suited to irrigation. Agriculture and fishing were both very important to the Chimú economy.
Worshipping the moon, the Chimú, unlike the Inca, considered it more powerful than the sun. Offerings played an important role in religious rites. A common object for offerings, as well as one used by artisans, was the shell of the Spondylus shellfish, which resides only in the warm coastal waters off present-day Ecuador. Associated with the sea, rainfall, and fertility, Spondylus shells were highly valued and traded by the Chimú people, and the exchange of the shells played a significant economic and political role in the empire.
The Chimú people are best known for their distinctive monochromatic pottery and fine metal working of copper, gold, silver, bronze, and tumbaga (copper and gold). Some Chimú artisans worked in metal workshops divided into sections for each specialized treatment of metals: plating, gold, stamping, lost-wax, pearl, the watermark, and embossing wooden molds. These techniques produced large variety of objects, such as cups, knives, containers, figurines, bracelets, pins, and crowns. The Chimú were famous for shaping metals through hammering. Chimú metalsmiths achieved this technique with simple tools and a single sheet of metal, hammered over a wooden form.
Although copper is found naturally on the coast, it was mostly attained from the highlands in an area about 3 days away. Since most of the copper was imported, it is likely that most of the metal objects that were made were likely very small. The pieces, such as wires, needles, digging stick points, tweezers, and personal ornaments, are consistently small, utilitarian objects of copper or copper bronze. The Tumi is one well-known Chimú work. They also made beautiful ritual costumes of gold compounds with plume headdresses, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and breastplates.