Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

An equestrian culture

As in North America, horses were adopted quickly and successfully by indigenous peoples in the far south of the continent. Among the Mapuche people the horse became an effective instrument for waging war, not to mention a valuable trade good and a symbol of prestige and status. So valuable were horses to the Mapuches that when a leader died, his horse was killed and eaten at the funeral feast. Mapuche horses were adorned with silver ornaments and beautiful multicoloured textiles.

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Equestrian leather belt with silver ornament Mapuche,early 20th century MCHAP, 3451