Pre-Columbian, Peru (North Coast), Moche Culture, ca. 100 to 400 CE. Wow! An incredibly preserved, extremely rare wooden scepter finial. It depicts a structure with a lord inside of it, perhaps meant to be a litter with a roof, a temple, or an altar. Two kneeling guardian figures, probably meant to be warriors based on the round purple shell discs each holds, presumably representing maces, are in front of the figure, facing outward, on the same platform as the lord. The lord wears a crescent-shaped crown made of creamy white shell; similar shell forms crescent-shaped pectorals worn by the guardians, and a border around the edge of the platform. Below the platform is a flared, conical socket for attaching this to the top of a scepter, decorated with discs made of white shell and pale blue turquoise. Size: 2" L x 1.55" W x 3.2" H (5.1 cm x 3.9 cm x 8.1 cm); 6.6" H (16.8 cm) on included custom stand.
The time of the Moche has been called the "Mastercraftsman Period" for its incredible artwork, especially with miniature depictions. This incredible skill is fully on display here. This is an evocative image that indicates the power of the lord to command such warriors. The kneeling warrior was an important motif for the Moche during this early part of the Moche period. For example, over twenty ceramic kneeling warrior vessels were found in the high status tombs at Loma Negra, in the Piura River Valley. Others have been found throughout that region. Warriors in this culture knew that to lose in battle meant not only losing face, but also the very strong possibility that they would become sacrificial victims, their bodies dismembered and possibly flayed to please the gods.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-H. Westermann collection
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Wood has dark, rich patina on surface, and is incredibly preserved for its age, with a few hairline cracks and small nicks from the corners. Shell and turquoise are also in nice condition, with a few small breaks and losses. Unrepaired and unrestored. Comes in a protective plastic case.