Description

A green oxidized bronze sacrificial axe with a thin blade, a cylindrical shaft with a ringing bell (rattle) and three tiny sculptures at the top of the handle, one a head with wide eyes and two perched vultures

The Tumi is a sacrificial ceremonial axe distinctly characterized by a semi-circular blade, made of either bronze, copper, gold-alloy, wood, or silver alloy usually made of one piece and used by some Inca and pre-Inca cultures in the Peruvian Coastal Region. In Andean mythology, the Moche, Chimu and Incas were descendants of the Sun, which had to be worshiped annually with an extravagant celebration. The festival took place at the end of the potato and maize harvest in order to thank the Sun for the abundant crops or to ask for better crops during the next season. During this important religious ceremony, the High Priest would sacrifice a completely black or white llama. Using a tumi, he would open the animal’s chest and with his hands pull out its throbbing heart, lungs and viscera, so that observing those elements he could foretell the future. Later, the animal and its parts were completely incinerated.

Other Andean cultures such as the Paracas have used the Tumi for the neurological procedure of skull trepanation. Many of these operations were carefully performed, suggesting that the surgery was done for the relief of some body disturbance other than that associated with injury, perhaps an organic or mental condition.

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Peru
DATE OF MANUFACTURE: Circa 0-500 A.D.
PERIOD: 15th Century and Earlier
CONDITION: Good
WEAR: Wear consistent with age and use
HEIGHT: 6.1 in. (15 cm)
DIAMETER: 3.3 in. (8 cm)
Weight .132 kg