The Wari civilization formed in the wake of a late-sixth-century drought that ravaged the central Andean region of what is today Peru and parts of adjacent countries. It was a new cultural experiment that, over the next four centuries, produced a society of such unprecedented complexity that many today regard it as South America’s first empire. As predecessors of the Inca Empire, which fell to Spanish forces after 1532, the Wari had no previous examples of expansionist states to draw upon and thus represent a major development in Andean civilization.
Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes explores the Wari accomplishment through some 140 artworks in all major media in which they worked—polychrome ceramics, ornaments made of precious metals or colorful mosaics, sculptured wood and stone objects, and textiles of striking complexity. Together, these works paint a picture of the Wari state and offer insights into their expansion strategies.
Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes is only the second exhibition in the world to be devoted to the arts of the Wari Empire, and the first of its kind in North America. Bringing together objects from public and private collections all over the world, including several objects that have never been seen outside the countries in which they now reside, this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to experience an extraordinary civilization in great depth and detail.
This exhibition is organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art. It has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is supported in part by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.