Man’s mantle and two border fragments (Peruvian, Paracas, A.D. 50–100)

Wool plain weave, embroidered with wool. Denman Waldo Ross Collection (16.34a-c). Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Intricately embroidered with richly dyed colors of thread, this magnificent mantle dating to A.D. 50–100 displays fifty-five “bird impersonator” figures adorning a dark plain weave ground. Several figures within the border were never fully completed. Matching figures on a skirt that belongs with the mantle were also left unfinished, with only their outlines rendered in gold thread, and a solidly embroidered gold border setting off their detailed contours (click here for image). The various stages of needlework on these textiles offer us clues about the sequential creation process.

Click for description, detail views and collection data on

Object a Week is a revolving showcase of MFA textile collections. A featured object may be indicative of the author’s study focus at a given moment in time and/or related to topics of research, activity, or recent acquisitions in the Museum’s Textile and Fashion Arts department

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