Pre-Columbian, Central Coast Peru, Incan Empire, ca. 1200 to 1532 CE. A small, smooth vessel, hand-carved from a russet-beige colored stone with a hollowed-out interior. These small stone figures, called canopas, are the most common ritual effigies known from this culture. Typically depicting llamas, alpacas, or other camelids, these canopas are often buried in the animals' corrals to protect the herds and increase their fertility. This particular container, however, is unusual as it exhibits a fearsome jaguar head with perky ears and an open mouth full of fangs; a mounded tail protrudes from the posterior. The cavity on its back would have been filled with some type of offering - like coca leaves, maize, or animal fat - in order to appease the gods. A jaguar canopa may perhaps have been buried deep within the forests of ancient Peru to garner protection from these nocturnal felines. Size: 3.25" L x 1.875" W x 2.5" H (8.3 cm x 4.8 cm x 6.4 cm).
Provenance: private, Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private H. J. Westermann collection, Germany
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