Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Viru, ca. 300 BCE to 100 CE. A Viru bichrome whistling vessel in the form of a sweet monkey or transitioning dwarf/shaman with simian features, an arched tubular bridge handle connecting the spout to the end featuring the adorable visage. Typical of Viru wares, the modeling is pleasantly simple yet very descriptive. The surface is adorned in a lustrous negative resist finish showing beige stylized geometrics on the face perhaps tattoos and a pointed, star-like collar against the red ground. Size: 8.75" L x 6.125" H (22.2 cm x 15.6 cm)
The iconography is intriguing. Dwarves were believed to have magical powers in many Pre-Columbian cultures and were often associated with shamanism; the monkey-like features suggest the transformative powers between humans and animals that some shamans were believed to gain through ritual practices. However one describes him - shaman, dwarf, and/or monkey - this figure has personality and an engaging visage with its prominent almond-shaped openwork eyes, naturalistic ears, perky nose, and wide open mouth as if he is surprised.
The Viru culture, which emerged on the north coast of Peru at the close of the Chavin period, was later displaced by the Moche Culture in the Chicama and Moche River valleys. This said, Viru ceramics have been found at Vicus further north as well. A wonderful an rare simian/anthropomorphic effigy whistling jar from this ancient culture of the Americas.
Provenance: Ex-private E. Vaught Collection, Atlanta, GA
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