Royal Llama of the Inca

Part of Hall of South American Peoples.

A small silver-colored figurine of a llama with a long neck and erect ears, with a narrow rectangular red-and-gold blanket along the length of its back.

Most Inca goldwork and silverwork was melted down by the Spanish conquistadors. The Museum's silver llama figurine is a rare example of Inca metalwork. Approximately 500 years old, it is from the Island of the Sun, or Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

Every morning, an Inca priest presided over the sacrifice of a llama at the temple of the Sun. Anthropologists think that this figurine is a special white llama covered with a red blanket that was kept by the Inca ruler, or Sapa Inca, as a kind of mascot.