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Chimú Ceremonial Copper Tumi with Warrior Figure Finial

Chimú Ceremonial Copper Tumi with Warrior Figure Finial

Regular price €880,00
Regular price Sale price €880,00
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Pre-Columbian era, Chimú culture, c. 800-1470AD, Moche Valley, Trujillo, Peru.

A magnificent example of a sacrificial knife (Tumi), cast from thick copper, with a heavy crescent-shaped cutting edge, attached to a cylindrical handle capped by a finial in the form of a seated warrior or deity. The tubular handle has an abstract motif of bird, a form familiar to fans of the stylized iconography of Chimú textiles. In Chimú religion, sea birds such as pelicans were closely associated with the idea of human and agricultural fertility. They were also symbols of the afterlife.

The tumi was a ceremonial knife used by several pre-Columbian cultures that inhabited the Peruvian coast, including the Moche, Sicán, Chimú, and Inca cultures, to carry out blood sacrifice and perform surgical procedures. As a ceremonial object, tumis were often made of precious metals, such as bronze, gold, silver or copper. The tumi often appear in Moche iconography, and is shown to be used to cut the throats of sacrificial victims. Among the Inca, the crescent-bladed knives were used to sacrifice llamas during the harvest celebrations. The festival (Inti Raymi'rata) took place at the end of the potato and maize harvest in order to thank the Sun for the abundant crops or to ask for better crops during the next season. During this important religious ceremony, the High Priest would sacrifice a completely white or black llama. Using a tumi, he would open the animal's belly and with his hands pull out its bowels, so that observing those elements he could foretell the future. Later, the animal and its parts were completely incinerated. Apart from ritual sacrifices, the tumi was also used for cranial surgery, more specifically, for cranial trephination, a form of surgery in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the skull. This surgery was done to treat psychological disorders,  headaches or a cranial fracture. Unlike the ceremonial tumis, these surgical blades were smaller.

This gorgeous tumi are in excellent condition. Both blade and handle are covered in layers of green and russet patina. Age-related wear and abrasion. Size approx. 13,8cm x 1,8cm (blade 13,8cm) x 0,3cm.

Provenance: Swedish private collection. 

For a similar example see:

Copper Tumi with Figure, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 1987.394.607 (

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