Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Larredo-Trujillo, Chavin, ca. 400 to 200 BCE. An extremely rare, transformation blackware vessel, presenting broad-line incisions that depict two abstract glyphs representing a shaman head dramatically changing into a jaguar visage - or possibly the important Chavin deity Lanzon who possessed an anthropomorphic body with a jaguar head. The vessel itself possesses a gorgeous silhouette - piriform with a broad body that rises to a tapering neck and a gently flaring rim, all upon a flat base. Such imagery combining wild felines and anthropomorphic forms are characteristic of the Chavin. A very early example from this ancient Peruvian culture. Size: 5.625" in diameter x 6.625" H (14.3 cm x 16.8 cm)
The Chavin people lived in the northern Highland Andes, and their capital, Chavin de Huantar, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The artwork of Chavin represents the first widespread artistic style in the Andes. The center of Chavin de Huantar is a massive, flat-topped pyramid, surrounded by lower platforms. Between 1200 and 500 BCE the pyramid space was used for religious ceremonies. The Old Temple, constructed very early in the history of the site, consists of a series of passageways built around a circular courtyard; within were carved stone monuments showing jaguars, serpents, and other figures with transformative and/or anthropomorphic figures.
At the very center is a towering stone stela depicting an anthropomorphic figure with a jaguar head and a human body, believed to be Lanzon, the chief deity of Chavin. Researchers believe that worshippers ingested hallucinogenic drugs, and then were led in the dark through the labyrinthine passageways before entering the central courtyard and coming abruptly face-to-face with the snarling features of the god.
The broad line incised design is stylistically related to a vase and bowl found by Lumbereras in the Ofrendas Galleries at Chavin. (See Lumberas 1970: 150 and 1971: fig. 2.) These types of vessels - fired at a very high temperature using metallic minerals on the surface - exist in very few collections as they differ from the Chavin vessels found in the far north of Peru.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private H. J. Westermann collection, Germany
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