Pre-Columbian, Peru, Chancay culture, ca. 1200 to 1400 CE. A wonderful, naturalistic depiction of a long-beaked bird standing atop a spotted eel. A tall, thin spout rises from the middle of the eel's back; a strap handle connects the spout to the bird's body. Blow through the spout and sound will emerge from the hole at the other end of the handle! Size: 6.05" L x 7.35" W x 6.4" H (15.4 cm x 18.7 cm x 16.3 cm)
This vessel seems to have been made purely to be votive, or to show off the skill of the artist, because the eel has twin nostrils that would have allowed any liquid within it to pour out. The details are impressive, particularly of the eel's body; the bird's perch and beak position suggest that it is has come upon a dead eel washed up on the beach and is about to enjoy some unagi sushi. Perhaps this is a scene that the sculptor witnessed themselves, or one that someone requested. It has been painted in the distinctive Chancay style of black-on-white pottery. Chancay ceramics are found mainly in the cemeteries of the Ancon and Chancay valleys, where elite members of society paid for a class of artisans to create funerary items like this one.
Provenance: Ex-Private collection of Charles and Rita Colbert acquired in the 1960's
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