Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche, Phase III, ca. 350 to 550 CE. A mold-formed, highly burnished pottery stirrup vessel presenting with a circular base, cylindrical body, flat top, and two tubular necks that join together at a slender centrically located spout. The circumference of the glistening taupe-hued exterior presents two nearly identical high relief hunting scenes, each featuring a man dressed in a loin cloth, rectangular headdress, and circular earspools standing as he holds a long weapon in his right hand and the tail of a jaguar in the other. His sizable head, featuring heavy lidded almond-shaped eyes, a bulbous nose, a pointed chin, and pursed lips, is turned in profile as he focuses on his bounty; a jaguar who, none too pleased with the matter at hand, bends both legs in an effort to scurry away and twists his head back, showing his long sharp teeth to his oppressor, perhaps even letting out a fierce growl. The action-packed narrative is flanked by two incised lines, creating two ribbon-like borders along the base and top of the vessel. An engaging example from the Moche! Size: 5.25" W x 9.75" H (13.3 cm x 24.8 cm)
The jaguar symbolized power and might throughout the Pre-Columbian world. Warriors, rulers, hunters, and shamans alike associated themselves with this king of beasts, the largest and most powerful feline in the New World. The principal Moche god wears a headdress adorned with a jaguar head and paws and important mortals donned similar headdresses. A nocturnal animal, the jaguar sleeps in caves and dark places and creeps quietly in the forest, evoking great mystery. Oddly enough, few Moche artists would have actually seen jaguars as they are not indigenous to the coast. Jaguars prefer moist forest conditions. However, scholars believe that some cubs were transported over the mountains for Moche rituals, and it is also possible that some jaguars wandered down the coast.
Provenance: private southwestern Pennsylvania, USA collection, acquired prior to 2000
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Light surface wear with minor nicks/chips, scratches, and abraded areas throughout. Barely distinguishable number written in pencil on base. Otherwise, excellent and intact with superb remaining pigments and nice earthen deposits in recessed areas.