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Toqui cura

Early Mapuche toqui cura
AD 1250–1500
Chiloé Island, Chile
12 x 3.5 x 23 cm
Collected during the Thea Heye Chile Expedition led by Samuel K. Lothrop

Though little is known of the Mapuche during the pre-Hispanic period (AD 1450–1600), it is known that the Mapuche were led by toqui (war chiefs) during periods of military conflict. Toqui cura—badges of office mentioned by early Spanish chroniclers—are occasionally held today by Mapuche chiefs who live in isolated areas. Typically, toqui cura are made in the form of a bird’s head with elevated eyes—probably symbolizing a hawk. Hawks represent important ancestors among the Mapuche.

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