Art History Chimú Art and Architecture
by
Joanne Pillsbury
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920105-0008

Introduction

The Chimú culture flourished on what is now the north coast of Peru from around AD 1000 to c. 1470, when the polity was conquered by the Inca. The Chimú state, sometimes referred to in the historical sources as Chimor, dominated a length of approximately 1,000 kilometers of the coast, from nearly what is now the border between Peru and Ecuador to just north of the modern capital of Lima. The Chimú were the most powerful entity in the period known as the Late Intermediate period but drew upon cultural traditions developed in the same region in earlier periods, particularly the Moche and the Lambayeque (also known as Sicán). Indeed, the capital of the Chimú state, Chan Chan, was constructed just a few kilometers away from the earlier Moche center of Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol, in what is now the outskirts of the modern city of Trujillo. There is a fair amount of published archaeological research on the Chimú, although in recent years, in the wake of the spectacular finds at the Moche site of Sipán, Chimú studies have been eclipsed by Moche-focused projects. The literature specifically on Chimú art and architecture, however, is far less abundant. As yet there are no dedicated journals to Chimú studies, nor are there specific bibliographies, anthologies, reference works, or textbooks.

General Overviews

Historical sources from the 16th and 17th centuries, along with archaeological studies, form the core background literature for understanding the context of Chimú art and architecture.

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