Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Casa Grande, earliest type of stirrup vessel called "Classic Chavin", ca. 1200 BCE. A stupendous example of the early monochrome stirrup vessels found in the mountains and river valleys of Northern Peru. Typical are the large spouts, arcs, and stone polished surfaces. This beautiful vessel depicts the San Pedro cactus in high relief with a dotted pattern to represent the cactus thorns. The branches of the San Pedro cactus contain a hallucinogenic substance that the ancients used for traditional medicine and rituals. A stunning example with a carefully polished surface. Size: 4" in diameter x 7.75" H (10.2 cm x 19.7 cm)
The stirrup vessel form is named for the stirrup for horseback riding. In addition to being iconographically rich, these vessels were also practical. Their narrow openings prevented rapid evaporation of the precious liquid within - a great advantage given the extremely dry deserts of Peru. Note also that the shape of the neck made it easy to carry. Two stirrup vessels could be tied to the ends of a cord and suspended over a llama's back or a person's shoulder.
The Chavin civilization is generally regarded as the Andean mother civilization - oftentimes compared to the Olmec of Mexico. Both the Chavin and the Olmec cultures created the earliest Pre-Columbian visual culture that continued to flourish until European contact in the 16th century. Using molds and modeling the forms by hand, the Chavin made numerous stirrup-spout vessels like this example. Scholars have suggested that the indigenous used them to store fermented corn beer or "chicha".
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private H.J. Westermann collection, Germany
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