**First Time At Auction**
Pre-Columbian, north coast of Peru, Moche culture, Phase III, ca. 300 to 500 CE. A hand-built pottery vessel with a flat base, a tall, apple-shaped body with a rounded shoulder, a stirrup-shaped handle, and a projecting spout with an everted rim. The highly burnished surfaces are colored with beige-hued slip that provides a fine ground on which a russet-hued pair of highly abstract, two-headed stingrays are incised. Each stingray bears a trapezoidal head with discoid eyes and a rectangular mouth, and the mutual bodies curve dramatically around the heads as well as around triangular motifs. Size: 5.6" W x 8.6" H (14.2 cm x 21.8 cm)
The stingray was sensibly feared by ancient Andean cultures as its dorsal spine could be utilized as a lethal weapon when the creature was provoked. The sharp edges and points of stingray tails meant they were highly valued as blood-letters during sacrificial rituals, and the potent venom was coveted by hunters and shamans alike. The bloodletting practice was believed to release the ephemeral spiritual energy of the living vessel into the cosmos to aid in sustaining and preserving its growth. Ergo, the stingray embodied a characteristic Pre-Columbian belief in the duality between its deadly capabilities as well as its life-affirming qualities.
Provenance: ex-private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-Hans Juergen Westermann collection, Germany, acquired in the 1950s to 1960s
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Professional repair to handle, with nearly invisible resurfacing and overpainting along break lines. Minor chips and abrasions to base, stingray motifs, handle, and spout, with small areas of overpainting to stingrays, and light fading to areas of original pigment. Nice traces of original pigment and light earthen deposits throughout.