Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche, ca. 300 to 600 CE. An exquisite set of keros (sometimes quero, qiro) formed from sheet silver and then hammer-molded to form drinking vessels. One vessel is cylindrical in form with a planar base, a deep interior cavity, a flared rim, and a wide mouth. The second vessel is formed from a petite cup with a lengthy stem. The bases of both cups are comprised of separate, hollow sections which are filled with small rattle balls. While the purpose of these balls is unknown, they may have been used during ceremonies involving drinking, dancing, and ritual performance. The rattle balls within the stemmed cup are much smaller than those within the deeper cup, based on the higher-pitched sound, and a minute perforation below the stem allows the sound to be easily projected. A wonderful duo, replete with exceptional craftsmanship! Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size of largest (stemmed handle): 7" H (17.8 cm); 7.25" H (18.4 cm) on included custom stand.
The kero form was also created by Huari and Inca cultures as well as other peoples of the ancient world. However, the indigenous of Peru created these for more than domestic purposes. Rather they were used during life and after life at funerary ceremonies that incorporated intricate religious libations and imbibing rites. To create this piece, the ancient metalsmith hammered a silver piece into a very thin sheet, approximately the size of the finished work. Then the artisan used fine-grained stone anvils and hammer stones made of hematite or green porphyry, sometimes with animal hide attached, and a wooden template was used to create the form and its repousse ornamentation, as the metalsmith hammered the silver sheet upon the wooden template.
Provenance: ex-private Florida, USA collection
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Both vessels have surface wear commensurate with age, slight dents and bending to overall forms, some roughness along bases and rims, and minor tarnishing across most surfaces, otherwise intact and near-choice. Light earthen deposits throughout. Light-green patina in some interior areas. Rattle balls still emit sound when shaken.