Pre-Columbian, Northern Peru, Inca, ca. 1200 to 1500 CE. A polychrome pottery vessel of two spondylus shells on pedestal bases with two long neck spouts. The vessel's main body, the shells, are connected to each other at their center, creating a double chamber, and a bridge handle with openwork triangular motifs spans the necks. One neck Is topped by a rimmed open spout, and the other has a perched bird head covering most of the opening with a small slit. The two openings convert the vessel into a whistling vessel. The surfaces of the shells and bird are painted with russet and maroon pigment and the rim of the neck has a triangular black and maroon motif around the mouth. Spondylus shells held significance for the Inca, and this uniquely shaped vessel, painted to reflect the shell's vibrant red coloration, was likely used for ritualistic practices and burial rites. Size: 4.75" L x 3.75" W x 6.25" H (12.1 cm x 9.5 cm x 15.9 cm)
The Spondylus shell is native to coastal waters of South America and was considered sacred by many cultures. Mesoamerican divers gathered the Spondylus from the depths of the Pacific ocean as offerings to Pachamama, goddess of fertility. At the Inca site, Marcahuamachuco, about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of spondylus shells and fragments were recovered at a shrine! The Spondylus carries numerous symbolic meanings; a symbol of fertility and elite social status, it was also believed to be an omen of rain, warning the indigenous people of El Nino. In fact, the Spondylus shell only appears when the water becomes warmer during December- the time of the El Nino Current – immediately before the rainy season. Clearly this effigy vessel was created with symbolic intent!
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex- K. Klassen collection, Seattle, Washington, USA, acquired by 1990
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Necks resurfaced at the base and below bird. Stable hairline fissures on neck and near resurfaced areas. Surface wear with chips and nicks to rim and relief peripheries. Old inventory label on the base and nicely painted.