Pre-Columbian, Peru, Moche, ca. 100 to 600 CE. In a word, WOW! A very large pair of matched gilded copper earspools, the faces adorned with intricate depictions of running Chasqui, the warrior messenger of the Lord King, holding a shield and intimidating war club in one hand and a libation kero perhaps for a bloodletting ceremony in the other. Dressed to the nines, he wears an elaborate headdress adorned by a tumi and a feather ornament, a plume-like ornament on his nose, and a bracelet. Additional reliefs depicting perhaps war clubs or quipus are depicted in the background. Size: 3.875" in diameter (9.8 cm); 5.5" H (14 cm) on included custom stand.
Chasquis were messengers of the elite lords who carried messages, gifts, and quipus thousands of miles via a relay system. In addition to being physically fit and well-trained, they had the ability to read and translate khipus, making it possible to deliver messages to one another at tambos (relay stations) and ultimately between their superiors. In addition to quipus, they oftentimes held conch shell trumpets in order to signal to the next chasqui in the system, ensuring that he be at the ready, so that no time would be wasted.Any goldwork from the Moche is exceedingly rare, as their treasures were targeted by plunderers during Colonial times.
Heidi King of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York offers the following explanation in "The Art of Precolumbian Gold": "The Mochica or Moche as they are also known, built their capital in the dry, coastal valley of Moche, where the main construction was the Huaca del Sol, the so-called Pyramid of the Sun, the largest adobe structure built in Pre-Columbian South America. The great pyramid, made of over 143 million adobe bricks, was clearly visible and easily accessible during Colonial times, and it received extraordinary attentions from early treasure hunters (Bray this volume). As a result of such attentions, little of the wealth in precious metals that the Moche peoples are believed to have possessed remains in its ancient form today. Those works that do remain are all the more important because of their rarity." (The Art of Precolumbian Gold: The Jan Mitchell Collection" edited by Julie Jones. Boston: Little Brown & Company, 1985, p. 212)
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-Eugene Lions collection, Geneve, Switzerland
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Slight denting and normal surface wear commensurate with age. Minute losses to back faces. Wonderful green and russet patina to the backings. Nice age patina to gilded faces.