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.

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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 and/or related to topics of research, activity, or recent acquisitions in the Museum’s Textile and Fashion Arts department. For more in-depth explorations of the collection, see A Closer Look.

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