Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Sican/Lambayeque, ca. 9th to 11th century CE. A remarkable example of the luxury arts created by the Sican/Lambayeque culture, this stirrup vessel is comprised of 58% gold sheet (equivalent to just under 14K) that has been skillfully cut, hammered, and modeled into an impressive and incredibly rare form. The body of the vessel is a rectangular prism adorned with vertical bands of running diamond motifs housing concentric circles, flanked by linear striations. Rising from the vessel body is a bridge handled spout – the front section modeled to represent Naylamp (also Naymlap, Nanlap, or Nylamp), the founder/emperor of the Sican Empire, standing under a temple roof and holding a keros vessel in both hands. Naylamp peers out with his coffee bean shaped eyes, triangular nose, and gentle smile flanked by nasolabial folds. His importance is emphasized, as he is extravagantly bedecked with an elaborate headdress, belt, and abundant jewelry. The gold sheets that form Nayalap's image surround an inner wooden core, and nice remains of red cinnabar still adorn the piece. Gold quality: 58%, equivalent to just under 14K. Weight: 362.874 grams Size: 5.5" L x 4.375" W x 9.375" H (14 cm x 11.1 cm x 23.8 cm)
Naylamp (also Naymlap, Nanlap, or Nylamp), the traditional founder of the Lambayeque dynasty is believed to have come from the south by sea and colonized the region before he allegedly sprouted wings and flying off into the sunset in a dramatic display of his magical powers.
In addition, a tall tubular spout with a flared rim rises from the end opposite Naylamp. Finally, joining the figure to the spout is an attractive arched bridge that is beautifully detailed with openwork bands creating a row of inverted triangles followed by a row of squares, which is in turn followed by a row of triangles.
Sican elites were patrons of workshops that made fine precious metal objects like this one, and hammered sheet gold or silver pieces like this were the coveted media for objects created for the tombs of individuals of the highest status. Buried in mounds, these important Sican individuals were certainly entombed in high style.
Please note: this is an incredibly rare example. Although we have seen some similar vessels made of silver, this is the first one I have seen made of gold!
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-Ian Arundel collection, California, USA, the Old Curiosity Cabinet, Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, California, USA, collected 1950-1970
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Circular felt feet on the base to prevent scratching display surface. When the vessel is moved, one can hear that there is some sediment within. Expected indentations to the base with a few cracks, particularly on the bottom. Exposed seams on box, spout, and figure. Minute loss to figure's right shoulder. Minute tear and loss to periphery of figure's left leg. Minor indentations and nicks to peripheries of the figure and canopy. Traces of red cinnabar and deposits particularly in recessed areas and seam lines. Gold has developed a warm patina over the ages.