Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche I, ca. 100 to 300 CE. A stunning bichrome stirrup vessel depicting twin serpents, each snake with a fierce expression - their visages detailed with applied round, bulging eyes, noses with flaring nostrils, open mouths revealing sharp teeth with pointy fangs at the corners, and alert upraised rounded ears. Their sinuous, slithering bodies are meticulously decorated with incised concentric circle and triangle motifs. Slithering their way up the arms of the stirrup are another pair of snakes comprised of zigzag bodies and angular heads. A marvelous example from the Moche, replete with attractive forms, fine technique, and layers of iconographic symbolism (see below). Size: 6.375" W x 5.375" H (16.2 cm x 13.7 cm)
The dualistic iconography of this piece may be related to the bicephalic serpent (or dragon) which was a signifier of high rank in various Pre-Columbian world views. These two-headed beasts were regarded as sky bands that arched over the earth or surrounded the seas serving as a passageway for the planets and stars of the celestial realm. This motif decorated wares associated with individuals of high rank, thus associating them with the powers of this mighty creature. Beyond this, even the singular serpent is a fascinating element of Pre-Columbian iconography as it was regarded to be a beneficial source of nourishment and at the same time quite deadly with its poisonous venom. Also important to the indigenous was the fact that snakes shed their skin annually thus rejuvenating themselves and serving as symbols of renewal and good health
Provenance: J. E. collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; Thermoluminescence test confirms that the piece is ancient. A document certifying the thermoluminescence test will be provided with the item.
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Some expected surface wear commensurate with age. Repaired from half a dozen pieces . Nice mineral deposits. Thermoluminescence test confirms age.