Pre-Columbian, Nazca culture, Peru South Coast, ca. 100 to 400 CE. A fascinating hourglass-shaped drum, hand-built from ceramic and painted with the distinctive black-outlined, colorful Nazca iconography. The vessel has a rounded base painted with a series of dramatic, bold colored chevrons. Above this, the lower half has a deep red background with trophy heads in a grinning band around it. The vessel bulges slightly outward at its center, forming a sound chamber characteristic of Nazca drums. It them widens to the drum head, with the walls painted a warm beige and the rim repeatedly punctured to allow a skin to be sewn over it to form a playing surface. Size: 7.6" W x 12.6" H (19.3 cm x 32 cm)
In Nazca culture - and other ancient Peruvian cultures - the decapitation and ritual use of human heads was common; many mythical figures and kings known from Nazca pottery are shown holding trophy heads or in the presence of trophy heads. This drum shows the unassociated trophy heads, with no one holding them, which is a type of depiction common only to Nazca art. Archaeological evidence from the 20th century shows that this iconography is based on real rituals - over one hundred mummified trophy heads have been found from Nazca excavations, almost all with a puncture to the front of the skull for suspension. Archaeologists specializing this culture continue to argue over the significance of these heads in Nazca culture - Warriors fallen in battle? Taking the power of enemies by assuming ownership of a crucial part of their bodies? Remembrance of deceased relatives? The artwork here is an intriguing reminder of this lost culture.
This piece has been tested using thermoluminescence (TL) analysis and has been found to be ancient and of the period stated. A full report will accompany purchase.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex T. Misehimer collection, Beverly Hills, California, USA
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Repaired and restored from multiple pieces; this is expertly done and almost impossible to discern. Much of the pigment is original. When in use, it would have had a skin stretched across its upper part.