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Reconstructing the Uffizi Armeria: An Archival Analysis of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Medici Collection of Indigenous Mexican and South American Cultural Artefacts

Kathleen Buckley

This paper provides comprehensive documentation of the Indigenous Mexican and South American cultural artefacts from the Medici Uffizi Armeria collection. This analysis was conducted by recording all of the items described with the terms Indiana, all’Indiana, and dell’Indie in every available inventory of the Armeria from 1631 until 1768. These include well known cultural artefacts such as the Tupinambá feather cloaks, now housed in the Anthropology and Ethnography Museum in Florence, as well as lesser-known artefacts and others that are currently unaccounted for. The present research aims to reconstruct the Uffizi Armeria by connecting the descriptions of all identified Indigenous Mexican and South American cultural artefacts in the written inventories of the Armeria collection to extant artefacts in current Florentine museum collections or illustrations of similar cultural objects in Early Modern artwork. The paper puts the Medici collection of exotic curiosities in dialogue with the similar, contemporaneous collection of Milanese collector, Manfredo Settala, in order to build the groundwork for future studies on exotica in the Medici Armeria collection.