Pre-Columbian, Bolivia, Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku), ca. 400 to 1100 CE. A handsome, beautifully preserved wooden kero (also qiru, quero, qero), an Andean drinking vessel made to consume maize-based alcohol called chicha. The vessel is conical, flaring out at the mouth, with two raised bands at top and bottom. The most notable feature is a bat on one side in relief, with its head projecting upward from the rim, as if looking at the drinker. Its eyes are made from shell discs, and its mouth is open, revealing sharp canines. It also has tremendous, curved ears. Vessels like this one were traditionally made in pairs so that people could exchange the beverage ritually. Size: 6.95" W x 8.9" H (17.7 cm x 22.6 cm)
Nocturnal bats - the only winged mammals that fly - were believed to be as ominous as owls among Pre-Columbian cultures. Swooping and darting in the night sky, these creatures were linked to both the underworld and sexual potency, the sexual connotations in turn associated with rain and fertility. Bats were also connected in the ancient Andes to human sacrifice - as the sharp teeth on this fellow suggest.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private Hans Juergen Westermann collection, Germany
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Split down one side with ancient repair. Interior has some inactive insect damage and light deposits/weathering. The exterior also has weathering, notably around the base. The bat itself is beautifully preserved aside from a single tiny nick from one ear. Rich patina on surface.