MONTREAL — On its spring docket, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts embarks on a sumptuous and mystical journey to Peru.
Currently on display is “Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon,” an exhibition that explores some 3,000 years of Peruvian history with an impressive display of more than 370 artifacts, including a number of major works.
The exhibit begins with a time line that covers the Pre-Columbian, Pre-Colonial, Colonial and Independence eras of the South American country. Setting the scene is a striking room-sized video of Machu Picchu, the ancient and sacred Inca site found high atop the Andes Mountains. There, visitors are introduced to an archaeologist who’s who associated with Peruvian antiquities and history that includes Hiram Bingham, the Yale University archaeologist who discovered the site in 1911.
It’s soon on to sacrifices of the human and animal kind.
Through the topic of Andean Cosmology, the exhibit tells of human sacrifices that helped establish a connection to the supernatural world. The accompanying text states that most Pre-Columbian societies participated in the practice. In fact, the ceremony was considered one of the most important events of the ritual calendar. On display, a number of artifacts explore the ritual, including a ceramic figurine that depicts the goddess of the sacrificial ceremony. The piece dates from 100 A.D. to 800 A.D.
The Ceremonial Procession and Ancestor Worship topics look at the higher-ranking officials who ruled early Peruvian society. Theirs was filled with funeral processions fit for a king as well as some pretty fancy finery. In a word: gold.
Examples of gold necklaces, masks and body ornaments on display are enough to make any modern-day jeweler weep with envy. A showcased ornate headdress and accompanying body ornament, which covered the neck and pecs from shoulder to shoulder, dates from about 1000 A.D. to 1476 A.D.