Colorful Tropical Feathers and Andean Meaning Making. Reading Chroniclers Literally
Pre-Hispanic Andean cultures are famous for their colorful feathered objects, the pride of museums worldwide. Surprisingly, the meaning of these feathered objects has so far remained elusive. Scholars have primarily interpreted them as status symbols. In this talk, I show how a careful context analysis of mentions of feathers in chronicles combined with an analysis of the material record from Late Horizon archaeological material evidence helps us decipher hitherto overseen meanings of colorful feathers among Andean people, mainly the Incas. This is a novel story of decipherment as it is a discussion of Inca modes of thinking and Inca meaning-making processes, as well as European attempts to make sense of them.