Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche III to IV, ca. 400 to 600 CE. A bichrome red on cream pottery stirrup vessel depicting a transformational human to jaguar figure. The face has bulging ovoid eyes, a thin, human-like nose, puffy jowls, a downturned mouth, and a prominent snout above an open mouth full of teeth. Two prominent semi-circular ears painted in red are on either side of his face. A large stirrup handle projects from behind the head and the back of the vessel, a cylindrical spout with a thin rim emerging from the center. The bulbous front of the vessel has a fine-line red painting of human-like arms and hands with a net-like item painted hanging from the neck. Size: 6.5" W x 8.8" H (16.5 cm x 22.4 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 seen 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 Andrade collection New York, NY, USA acquired 1960s; ex Knoedler & Company
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