Detail of the Pachacamac Idol, wood, 2.2 m x 30 cm, Museo de sitio de Pachacamac, Peru
Material: Wood/Vegetal | Type: Tools/Instruments Sculptures/Relief carving | Countries: Peru
Red ListRed List of Latin American Cultural Objects at Risk
Carved oars are characteristic of the Chimu culture, in the northern coast of Peru, and the Chinchas, in the southern coast (1000-1500 AD). Both were cultures of sailors and fishermen contemporaneous with the Inca. The Spanish chronicles contain a few references to them. These oars seem to be ritual objects found in tombs. Due to the dry coast weather, the wood they are made of is usually well preserved and shows use of polychrome paint. They are approximately 1.2-2.3 m long. The oars, which are carved out of a single piece of wood, have three parts: the blade, the shaft and a decorated top. The blade is rectangular, usually unadorned although sometimes it is carved. The shaft and the top are in openwork or have intricately carved motifs depicting small human figures, birds, fishes, other stylized animals and ladder-like geometrical patterns. Some of them are inlaid with shells. There are also individual human forms made of wood, which are similar to the small ones found in carved oars. Their features are rough and they wear head-dresses and circular ear ornaments. Their head is big and disproportionate in relation to the body. They are worked in low relief and have a long rod to support the figure. They measure 50 cm without the rod.