Pre-Columbian, Peru, Moche, ca. 100 to 500 CE. A fabulous pair of bronze spoons (also called lime spoons), used to prepare lime powder in order to enhance the hallucinogenic properties of drugs like coca. Each spoon has a beautiful avian finial atop a long slender body hammered at the end to create a receptacle for the lime powder. The birds are likely hummingbirds with characteristically long beaks, and the surfaces of both have developed a wonderful green patina over the ages! Size of largest: 0.875" W x 2.875" H (2.2 cm x 7.3 cm); 3.8" H (9.7 cm) on included custom stand.
To the ancients of the Pre-Columbian world, hummingbirds (picaflores in Spanish) were associated with the sun. Appreciated for shiny, iridescent feathering and aerial acrobatics, the hummingbird made for the ideal solar metaphor. Since these birds are known to hover, seemingly motionless, and fly up, down and even backwards, the ancients likened their motions to the sun's hovering in the sky at the solstices when it is also known to reverse its celestial direction. In addition, hummingbirds can assume a torpid state when it is cold at night or during brief periods in the winter. However, they come back to life in the spring warmth. This unique ability to "die" and "resurrect" signified rebirth to the ancients, precisely at a time when planting and, in this sense, "renewed life" occurred.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private Hans Juergen Westermann collection, Germany, acquired between 1950 to 1960s
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Both pieces have very slight bending to overall forms as well as light encrustations, otherwise intact and very good. Great patina and light earthen deposits throughout.