Pre-Columbian, northwestern Argentina (Calchaqui Valley to San Juan Province), Aguada Culture, Early Period, ca. 600 to 700 CE. A large stone dish, used as a tray or tablet for the ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs in shamanic rituals, made by a little-known culture. Carved from a single piece of stone, the ovoid bowl gives the impression of resting on the backs of two parallel serpents; their tails emerge from one end and their near-identical heads from the other. Size: 11" W x 6" H (27.9 cm x 15.2 cm)
The Aguada culture is often considered peripheral to the societies in Andean and coastal Peru whose archaeology is world-renowned - meaning that people living in Aguada often took cultural influence from those societies and readapted it to suit their own needs and beliefs. Like many societies from that region, the Aguada people created a variety of richly decorated tools and vessels for the ingestion of drugs in religious and healing ceremonies. Stone sculpture is from the earliest period of Aguada culture, similar to the earlier Cienaga III period. Stone vessels like this one were placed into tombs alongside other drug paraphernalia like ceramic pipes.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-Ian Arundel collection, California, USA, the Old Curiosity Cabinet, Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, California, USA, collected 1950-1970
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Small chips to rim.