Pre-Columbian, Peru (North Coast), Moche Culture, ca. 400 to 800 CE. An incredible copper headdress, made of a hammered flat sheet of copper with a symmetrical body and the three-dimensional head of a lord projecting from its face. The head has shell eyes and dangling earrings, and wears a large, lunate headdress with another small face projecting from its brim. The eyes stare out at the viewer, wide and without lids or lashes, immediately drawing our own eyes to the center of the piece. The rest of the headdress has an almost insectoid look, with two large projections peeling outward from the top center and four curved, spike-edged projections below those. Size: 10.75" W x 7" H (27.3 cm x 17.8 cm); 11.75" H (29.8 cm) on included custom stand.
We know that the Moche wore headdresses like this in the grave; they may also have worn them in life. The use of copper suggests that this belonged to a nobleman or woman; gold and silver were reserved for royalty. The gilding shows a desire to emulate the highest members of society. For the Moche, precious metal was not a currency used to exchange goods, but rather a material used to display power and perform religious rituals - often one and the same activity. Metals were associated with the supernatural realm, thought to be created by the gods.
Provenance: ex-Alan Davis collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, acquired at Arte Primitivo Gallery, New York, New York, USA
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