Chieftain's vara stick

20th century
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General Description

This tall staff is made from a hard wood and ornamented with brass and iron sheet metal at the cap and along the shaft at even intervals. The metal cap is decorated with an animate sun at the top, as well as a flowering vase and a Latin cross around the sides. These elements reflect the official, and likely ceremonial, role of the staff-bearer in the community and religious festivals. Adopted from official Spanish Colonial examples, such Andean staffs symbolize the authority of certain male individuals within their community.

Adapted from

Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, Inca: Conquests of the Andes / Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes, Label text, 2015.