Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche culture, ca. 100 to 700 CE. A lovely hand-built pottery vessel with a flat base, roughly spherical body, an arching stirrup-form handle, and an elongated tubular spout in a red slip. The body, once adorned with a cream slip, now exhibits a buff surface on which a pair of intricate warrior figures are painted in a deep rust-hued pigment. Each figure wears large chest armor, a thigh-length skirt, and a triangular helmet with a row of teeth or spikes on the back, all while carrying a spear in one hand and either a square or circular shield in the other. The faces of each warrior are composed of circular eyes, lengthy slender noses, rounded cheeks and chin, and large earspools. A beautiful and well-constructed vessel from the ancient Moche! Size: 5.25" W x 10.2" H (13.3 cm x 25.9 cm).
Warfare and warriors are recurrent themes in Moche art, a strong testimony to the violence of Moche society, which was riven by intense inter-rivalry competition. There was a ritual element to Moche warfare too: prisoners had to be captured to make sacrifices to the gods. This figure seems to be an ordinary warrior rather than a lord, as the latter are usually depicted wearing domed helmets.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private New York, USA collection
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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, loss to much of body's cream slip, overpainting to the majority of warrior motifs, minor nicks and roughness to spout, handle, body, and base, and some fading to coloration. Light earthen deposits throughout.