Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche, ca. 400 to 600 CE. Roar! A wonderful pottery stirrup vessel depicting a fierce jaguar with a rippled coat, a long curled tail, an expressive visage comprised of wide open eyes, a pronounced nasal ridge, and an open mouth, looking deceptively playful, however, grasping a human victim in its front paws, thus affirming the wild feline's potential for ferocious acts! Size: 7" L x 4.75" H (17.8 cm x 12.1 cm)
The jaguar symbolized power and might throughout the Pre-Columbian world. Warriors, rulers, hunters, and shamans alike associated themselves with this king of beasts, the largest and most powerful feline in the New World. The principal Moche god wears a headdress adorned with a jaguar head and paws and important mortals donned similar headdresses. A nocturnal animal, the jaguar sleeps in caves and dark places and creeps quietly in the forest, evoking great mystery. Oddly enough, few Moche artists would have actually scene jaguars as they are not indigenous to the coast. Jaguars prefer moist forest conditions. However, scholars believe that some cubs were transported over the mountains for Moche rituals and it is also possible that some jaguars wandered down the coast.
Provenance: private collection of Lupita Tovar, silent screen actress of the 1930's, Bel-Air, California USA
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