Animals in Ancient Andean Art

In many ancient Andean cultures, animals were considered powerful, supernatural beings that controlled the forces of nature. This idea is reflected in the art of that time and place, where rulers were often portrayed as embodiments of revered animals—including cats, killer whales, and condors. The Art Institute of Chicago is home to one of the world’s greatest collections of these treasures. Join the museum’s textile conservator Lauren Chang and Department of African and Indian Art of the Americas’ research assistant and collections manager Elizabeth Pope for a visual tour of these extraordinary artworks. Discover the intimate relationship between the human and animal realms in the ancient Andean world and find out how the arid Andean climate, so punishing for its inhabitants, affected the pre-Columbian ceramics and textiles on view today.