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Subject: Mexican feather mosaic

Mexican feather mosaic

From: Emily M. O'Brien <emily>
Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Ellen Pearlstein <epearlstein [at] hotmail__com> writes

>I am assisting a group of art historians who are interested in the
>technology and conservation of Mexican feather mosaics. These were
>part of a pre-columbian tradition for decoration that continued and
>was modified to produce Christian imagery in the colonial era. I
>would be interested in hearing about any technical studies or
>conservation treatment work that has been performed on these

I, too, am interested in learning more about this subject.  I
searched the Library of Congress catalog online
(<URL:>) and
<URL:> and found a number of publications.  I
searched under the subjects: "Indian Featherwork" and "Featherwork".
Here are a few of the titles:

    Bates, Craig D.  1982.
    Feathered regalia of Central California: wealth and power.
    Redding, California: Redding Museum and Art Center.

    Castello Yturbide, Teresa.  1993.
    El arte plumaria en Mexico.  Mexico: Fomento Cultural Banamex:

    Dorta, Sonia Ferraro.  1981.
    Pariko, etnografia de um artefato plumario.  Sao Paulo: Fundo de
    Pesquisas do Museu Paulista da Universidade de Sao Paulo.
    Series: Colecao Museu Paulista.  Etnologia; vol. 4.

    Dorta, Sonia Ferraro.  2000.
    Plumaria indigena brasileira no Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia
    da USP / Sonia Ferraro Dorta and Marilia Xavier Cury.

    Highwater, Jamake.  1983.
    Arts of the Indian Americas: Leaves from the Sacred Tree.  New
    York, NY: Harper and Row Publishers.

    Lothrop, Samuel Kirkland.  1923.
    American feather-decorated mats.  Menasha, Wisconsin: American
    anthropological association.

    Mead, Charles W.  1907.
    Technique of Some South American Feather-work.  New York: The
    Trustees.  (from the series: Anthropological Papers of the
    American Museum of Natural History, vol. 1, part 1.)

    Nicola, Norberto.  1986.
    Aromeri: arte plumaria do indigena brasileiro = Brazilian Indian
    Feather Art / Mercedes-Benz do Brasil S.A.;  [textos de]
    Norberto Nicola, Sonia Ferraro Dorta.

    Nuttall, Zelia.  1888.
    Standard or head-dress?  An historical essay on a relic of
    ancient Mexico.  By Zelia Nuttall.  Cambridge, Massachusetts:
    Peabody museum of American archaeology and ethnology. (From the
    series: Archaeological and ethnological papers of the Peabody
    museum.  Harvard University, vol. 1, no. 1.)  Notes: The relic
    is a "unique piece of feather-work dating from the time of the
    conquest of Mexico and now preserved in the imperial
    ethnological collection in Vienna."

    Nuttall, Zelia.  1895.
    Ancient Mexican feather work at the Columbian historical
    exposition at Madrid.  By Zelia Nuttall.  From the Report of the
    Madrid Commission, 1892.  Washington, D.C.: Govt. print. off.

    Pallestrini, Luciana.  1988.
    Jeguakava: arte plumario del Paraguay: album grafico/publicado
    bajo la direccion de Luciana Pallestrini y Jose A. Perasso.
    Asuncion, Paraguay: El Lector.

    Reid, James.  1990.
    Feather Masterpieces of the Ancient Andean World. London: Thomas
    Gibson Fine Art Ltd.  Dealer Exhibition catalog.

    Reina, Ruben E. and Kenneth M. Kensinger.  1991.
    The Gift of Birds: Featherwork of Native South American Peoples.
    Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

    Rowe, Ann P.  1984.
    Costumes and Featherwork of the Lords of Chimor, Textiles from
    Peru's North Coast.  Washington, D.C.: Textile Museum.

    Tuchman, Gail, ed.  1994.
    Through the eye of the feather: Native American visions.  Salt
    Lake City: Gibbs Smith Publisher.

    Mona Bismarck Foundation.  2001.
    L'art de la plume en Amazonie : Mona Bismarck Foundation.  Paris
    : Somogy.

    United States. Commission to the Madrid exposition, 1892.  1895.
    Report of the United States commission to the Columbia
    historical exposition at Madrid. Washington, D.C.: Govt. print.

Unfortunately, many of these publications appear to be difficult to
come by. I did find and purchase a copy of the Charles W. Mead book
on South American featherwork.  It has useful diagrams and
descriptions of the methods employed in featherwork.  If you'd like,
I would be happy to make photocopies from it for you.

As far as the conservation of feathers goes, I have a few sources
(courtesy of Ruth Norton):

    Barton, G. and S. Weik.  1986.
    Ultrasonic cleaning of ethnographic featherwork in aqueous
    solutions.  Studies in Conservation 31:125-132.

    Da Silveira, L.  1997.
    A note on the poultice cleaning of feathers using Laponite RD
    gel.  Studies in Conservation 42:11-16.

    Drummond, G.  1994.
    The Mending of feather vanes.  AICCM Bulletin 19(3+4): 39-59.

    Green, S.W. and P.S. Storch.  1986.
    An evaluation of feather cleaning techniques.  In Symposium 86:
    The care and preservation of ethnological materials, eds, R.
    Barclay, M. Gilberg, J.C. McCawley, and T. Stone.  Ottawa:
    Canadian Conservation Institute.  31-36.

    Young, G.  1986.
    Disruption of feather structure by ultrasonic cleaning in
    aqueous detergent baths.  In Symposium 86: The care and
    preservation of ethnological materials, eds, R. Barclay, M.
    Gilberg, J.C. McCawley, and T. Stone.  Ottawa: Canadian
    Conservation Institute.  31-36.

I hope this helps,

Emily M. O'Brien

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:33
                Distributed: Thursday, November 14, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-33-010
Received on Wednesday, 13 November, 2002

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