Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche, ca. 100 to 500 CE. A lovely ensemble of three miniature figures comprised of a silver/copper alloy. The group includes a lord-king wearing a tumi-shaped headdress and turquoise inlaid ear flares with turquoise inlaid eyes and lapiz pupils as well as two jaguar-headed warriors with turquoise inlaid eyes and lapiz pupils and traces of spondylus shell teeth. The jaguar-headed warriors brandish mace-headed clubs and shields. All of the figures have integral loops on the verso for attachment or suspension. During the mid-twentieth century, archaeologists labeled the period when the Moche came to power as the "Mastercraftsman Period" due to this culture's striking technological innovations in the arts. Indeed Moche artists are known for their fine metalwork as demonstrated by these examples. Size: lord measures 1.875" H (4.8 cm); 4.125" H (10.5 cm) on included custom stand. Total weight: 69.5 grams. Precious metal content: 5% to 20% silver.
King of Beasts in the Pre-Columbian world, infamous for possessing high speed and massive strength, the jaguar was believed to dominate nature inspiring respect and awe throughout the ancient Americas. Jaguars were also associated with strength and leadership, whether in regard to spirituality or martial skill. Warriors, rulers, hunters, and shamans alike associated themselves with this King of Beasts, the largest and most powerful feline in the New World whom they viewed as their spirit companion and protector. Warfare and warriors are recurrent themes in Moche art, a strong testimony to the violence of Moche society, which was rife with intense combat and competition.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private Hans Juergen Westermann collection, Germany
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One loop missing from one of the jaguar figures. Tip of other jaguar's ear missing. Normal surface wear commensurate with age. Losses to spondylus inlays in jaguar mouths. Pieces have developed a rich, lustrous patina over the centuries.