Pre-Columbian, South Coast Peru, Nazca culture, ca. 100 BCE to 400 CE. A hand-built and highly burnished pottery jar of a round-bottomed form with a lightly carinated midsection, a tapered shoulder, and a thick rim surrounding a deep basin. The front of the vessel depicts a disembodied trophy head with wide, almond-shaped eyes inside red-orange panels, an ovoid mouth with thin black 'stitching' above and below, a protruding nose in the center, and a painted coiffure with several slender strands draped atop the forehead. A pair of lateral protrusions emulate the ears of the head and imbue the vessel with a stylized presentation. A wonderful example from ancient Peru! Size: 5.25" W x 4.25" H (13.3 cm x 10.8 cm).
Archaeological evidence from the 20th century shows that the stylized trophy head form so common to Nazca artwork was based on real rituals. Over one hundred mummified trophy heads have been found from Nazca excavations, almost all with a puncture to the front of the skull for suspension. Archaeologists specializing this culture continue to argue over the significance of these heads in Nazca culture - Warriors fallen in battle? Taking the power of enemies by assuming ownership of a crucial part of their bodies? Remembrance of deceased relatives? The artwork here is an intriguing reminder of this ancient culture.
Provenance: ex-Sobredo collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, acquired in the 1970s
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