Cloak, called the 'Mantle of Montezuma'

Cloak, called the 'Mantle of Montezuma', Tupinamba ethnic group
Atlantic Coast, Brazil
Before 17th cent.
Feathers, plant fibre; 200 x 180 cm
Inv. AAM.5783

This masterpiece is first mentionned in a manuscript written before 1780, where it is ascribed to Montezuma, the Aztec emperor in power when the Spaniards arrived in the early 16th century. The cloak was therefore attributed to a Mexican culture until the late 1920s, when a scholar by the name of Hirtzel put forth the idea that the technique of fabrication could only be attributed to Amerindians of Brazil of Guyana. In 1939, this hypothesis was corroborated by Calberg, whose research showed that the technique of attaching feathers to a string was widespread on the Atlantic coast of Brazil. Other cloaks of this type are known in European collections (Paris, Florence, Frankfurt, Basle, Berlin and Copenhagen), but the Brussels example is longer and better preserved with regard to both the number of feathers and the freshness of its colours.

Discover this masterpiece in the museum, on the online museum catalogue Carmentis, in the book Masterpieces of the Cinquantenaire Museum and in our brand new app for children and families Rock Paper Scissors!