Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Chinchorro


Evidence of the Chinchorro’s artistic development has come almost exclusively from the arrays of fine grave goods that accompanied their mummified remains, and to some degree from their elaborate funerary practices themselves. Turbans made of twisted plant or animal fiber cord and decorations made of seashell and malachite beads covered the mummies’ heads, which had been intentionally deformed during life. Their faces were covered by finely crafted mud masks and their bodies were wrapped with sashes and ropes made of animal and/or plant fiber. Color combinations varied over time, though natural colors, ochre and terracotta were common. Some mummies wore reed skirts. The bodies were laid upon mats made of plant fiber or animal skins, and many of them were accompanied by a selection of grave goods that included spear throwers, knives, harpoons and other implements, and occasionally sheets of native copper.