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Head of Viracocha

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Dated 1400-1532 (or historical forgery)

Cultural Context: Inca-style recreation.

Place of production: Ceca Peru (South America)

Origin: Amarucancha, Department of Cuzco (Peru, South America)

Medium: Diorite

Technique: Chipped, Polished

Dimensions Height = 36.5 cm; Width = 28 cm

Inventory no.: 07799

Realistic lithic sculpture representing an anthropomorphic head. The figure wears a forehead ornament, and its headdress cord falls to the right side. It is a representation of a monarch, as it is wearing two of the symbols of Inca royalty: the llautu, or rectangular band that wrapped around the head like a diadem, and the mascaipacha, a piece attached to the llautu consisting of a gold cord that fell alongside the head.

Traditionally, these attributes led to the identification of this representation with the Inca Viracocha, the eighth emperor who, upon ascending the throne, adopted the name of the most prominent god in the Andean pantheon. However, various elements, including the high degree of realism exhibited by this piece - which has no parallel in Inca stone sculpture - currently cast doubt on its authenticity. Some have suggested that it is a historical fake resulting from the romantic turn towards the Indigenous past typical of the 19th century.