Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche I-II, ca. 200 to 400 CE. A greyware stirrup vessel in the form of a sea lion lying down on its side with nicely delineated webbed feet, a curled tail, and genitalia as well as an adorable visage presenting almond-shaped eyes, a pert nose, slightly opened mouth, and petite ears. The color of the slip is rich with hues of gray, taupe, and warm russet red. A lovely example from the Moche of north coast Peru. Size: 8.75" W x 7.5" H (22.2 cm x 19 cm)
The Moche would have seen sea lions along the Peruvian coast. Scholars posit that the Moche associated these animals with human sacrifices, and we know from Moche art that they ritually hunted pinnipeds. Excavations of the site of Huaca de la Luna uncovered a tomb with a clay effigy of a sea lion and a sea lion canine tooth resting on the body's sternum. Some researchers have suggested that they are associated with humans, because of the animals' abilities to live both on land and in the sea, making them occupy a liminal space in the minds of people whose cosmology was ordered around the natural world.
Provenance: private Bloomington, Indiana, USA collection; ex Sotheby's Parke Bernet - Sale 3626, April 23, 1974 - Lot 101
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Minute nicks to rim of spout. Normal surface wear commensurate with age. Nice burnishing marks. Sotheby's Parke Bernet label on base and lot tag attached.