Bolton Library and Museum Services

Ethnography

Bolton Museum houses a small but significant collection of items that date primarily from the 19th and early 20th Century that were collected by local people as they worked or travelled in remote areas of the world. 

Peruvian Wrapped Mummy 

Peruvian Mummy Bundle
from Peru, Rimac Valley: Chancay culture
AD 1000-1400
Textile, human tissue, shell, copper alloy, 1100 x 550 x 350mm
BOLMG:1903.8.2
source: Smithies

Intact Peruvian mummy bundles are extremely rare as most were unwrapped when they were discovered in order to examine their construction and contents.  This mummy has been preserved as it was deposited in the tomb.

The mummy itself is inside the main body of the bundle.  The head on the top of the bundle is decorative and is stuffed with the features indicated in metal plates.  The mummy bundle is bound at the bottom by cords in a net pattern.  Small bags, which may contain cocoa leaves, hang from a strap around the middle of the mummy.

Recently conducted scans in Taipei’s Tri-Services hospital reveal much new information about the body inside the bundle.

The mummy is that of a young girl about 8 years old.  Metal plates cover the eyes and mouth and two spiny oyster (spondylus) shells are on her heels.  She holds a box containing weaving equipment.

The skull shows signs of healed trephination -- a procedure that involved creating small holes in the skull to relieve pressure.  A reed cage contains the body, which is wrapped in numerous layers of textiles. A large metal pin holds some of these layers in place.

This style of preparing a body was reserved in ancient Peruvian culture for those of very high rank.  The team who conducted the scans thinks she died due to extensive damage to her chest.  

X-ray and CT-scans of mummy 

Enhanced scan of box in mummy’s hands

Example of Peruvian Weaving Box collected by Smithies
 
Peruvian Weaving Box similar to that revealed in the scans of the mummy.  Now in Warrington Museum.  Image copyright Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Warrington Cultural Trust.

Peruvian  Jaguar Pot

Jaguar Effigy Pot
from Peru, Northern Coast: Moche culture
200-600
ceramic, 330 x 280 x 170mm
BOLMG:1903.8.48
source: Smithies

The jaguar was the most important symbolic animal in ancient Peruvian culture.  The leaders and religious specialist identified themselves with the jaguar in important ceremonies.

Jaguar gods were connected to the practice of human sacrifice, both real and mythical.  This pot shows a jaguar with outstretched paws as if it is about to pounce.  It features stripes in white that now have become quite faint, but once would have been clearly visible.