Pre-Columbian, north coast of Peru, Sican/Lambayeque culture, ca. 750 to 1370 CE. A matching pair of beakers, also known as keros (quero, qero, qiro), made using the lost wax casting technique from very thin sheets of silver. Each has a cylindrical bottom, a flat base, and a gently flared upper portion with a band of relief sea birds below a band of relief heads of Naymlap. Naymlap is the traditional founder of the Lambayeque dynasty, who came from the south by sea and colonized the region before, it was said, sprouting wings and flying off into the sunset. He seems to have been worshipped by his descendants, and silver and gold beakers like these bearing his likeness have been found within the massive pyramid mounds at the center of Lambayeque's greatest cities, alongside mummy bundles and sacrificial victims. Size: 3.7" W x 5.05" H (9.4 cm x 12.8 cm); total weight is 76.6 grams
Silver and other metal vessels were made at Cerro Huaringa, in vast smelting furnaces and workshops. People used these keros to drink chicha, a fermented drink crucial to religious and burial rites as well as ritual celebrations around planting and harvest time. Chica was made from maize, quinoa, or squash, with a local alcohol content and fermented through the use of saliva - women chewed the food and then boiled it in water, leaving the enzymes from their mouths to produce the malt for fermentation.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex Robert Sonin collection, a famous expert on Pre Columbian metal
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Patina on surface; light deposits, mainly on the interior.