Pre-Columbian, northern Peru, Moche IV, ca. 600 CE. A superb bi-chrome mold-made pottery stirrup vessel in the form of an eagle seated with wings at its sides, grasping a snake in its talons. Glazed in lustrous hues of burnt orange and creamy beige, the elegant creature bends its long tubular neck to look downward at its spotted prey from almond-shaped eyes, each embellished with two teardrop shapes, over a long curved beak with two incised nostrils. A row of three protruding feathers adorns the bird's head, while burnt orange polka dots on a beige ground decorate its chest and bulbous belly. Covered in a solid coat of burnt orange, the backside of the avian is incised with a heart shape along the periphery of its wings, which points to its tab-shaped tail. A stirrup spout sprouts from its neck and lower back. Size: 7.125" L x 5" W x 9" H (18.1 cm x 12.7 cm x 22.9 cm)
The Moche believed that birds were envoys between humans and the gods, so the broad flight patterns of eagles were thought to represent solar movements and thus imbued them with special powers. This vessel likely represents a harpy eagle, a species known for its crest of feathers that flare out from the top of the head. The crest looks very much like a crown or headdress which perhaps inspired many Pre-Columbian cultures to associate these majestic birds with royalty.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection, acquired in 2000; ex-private Haig collection, Rochester, Michigan, USA
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Spout professionally repaired from 2 to 3 pieces with overpainting on break lines which are indiscernible on exterior. Collection label on base. Expected surface wear with some minor nicks/chips throughout, especially on rim, as well as light pitting and scratches, commensurate with age. Nice remaining pigments!