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Festival Hat

Decorative Arts and Design

An Aymara official (curaca or kuraka) would have worn this hat during a festival held in Potosí (in present-day Bolivia), one of the most prominent sites of silver mining in the Spanish Americas. The design features native and European flora and fauna surrounding a central triangular shape that represents the Cerro de Potosí (see illustration), the mountain where silver was mined beginning in the 1540s. The production of this precious metal was dependent on the forced labor of tens of thousands of Indigenous workers and enslaved Africans. As the transatlantic market for silver grew, so too did the Spanish Empire’s reliance on systems of enslavement and racial caste.
CULTURE Possibly Aymara
MEDIUM Repoussé silver plaques on velvet, glass beads, wire
  • Possible Place Made: Potosi, Bolivia
  • DATES 18th century
    DIMENSIONS 4 15/16 x 13 1/4 x 13 1/4 in. (12.5 x 33.7 x 33.7 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 41.1275.274c
    CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Silver hat, part of a ceremonial costume consisting of a jacket and knee breeches which are in the collection of the Industrial design lab. High rounded crown and circular brim. Damasked purplish red velvet with floral pattern is under silver ornament. Lining of the hat is orange and white printed cotton flannel. The silver designs consist of vase and flowers, cornucopia, birds, elephant and dogs, strawberries, lion, chicken, moon, sun, church, llamas, mermaids playing mandolins etc. Streamers of silver chain hang down the back.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Possibly Aymara. Festival Hat, 18th century. Repoussé silver plaques on velvet, glass beads, wire, 4 15/16 x 13 1/4 x 13 1/4 in. (12.5 x 33.7 x 33.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1941, Frank L. Babbott Fund, 41.1275.274c. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 41.1275.274c_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 41.1275.274c_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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