Pre-Columbian, northern Peru, Moche III to IV, ca 300 to 600 CE. A bichrome pottery stirrup vessel, most likely used for holding chicha (fermented corn beer), depicting a saucy death scene at one end of the stirrup. Three figures sit upon the jar; the deceased sitting cross-legged at the center, flanked by a pair of ghoulish figures, their spirit-like quality indicated by the white slip adorning their bodies and bony spines. One of these figures is fondling the deceased's penis; the other presses his/her hand to the deceased figure's chin - perhaps having just fed the deceased or holding his mouth closed so as to keep him quiet. Size: 7.625" L x 9.25" H (19.4 cm x 23.5 cm)
The Moche were a fascinating civilization of northern Peru. Quite skilled and industrious, they built enormous pyramids and constructed an extensive aqueduct system. Also very creative and technically sophisticated, the Moche pioneered metalsmithing techniques such as soldering and gilding which resulted in beautiful jewelry and accoutrements, painted detailed murals, and created wonderful ceramic vessels that portrayed shamans and important individuals, flora and fauna, as well as many aspects of their daily lives such as ceremonial rituals, sacrifice, combat, and erotic encounters as we see on this vessel.
Provenance: private Denver, Colorado USA collection
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