Pre-Columbian, Peru, Vicus culture, ca. 200 BCE to 600 CE. A fantastic polychrome terracotta double-chambered vessel presenting a fierce jaguar perched upon the front chamber joined to the rear chamber by an upper curved handle that doubles as the wild feline's long tail which extends to the rear chamber and wraps around the conical spout as well as a tubular connection between the chambers below. The vessel bodies themselves are adorned by attractive and extensive abstract geometric programs in red, cream, and black hues. But most striking is the jaguar, modeled in the round and presenting a lively pose and expressive countenance with bulging eyes, a hooked nose, a mouth full of delineated teeth - with openwork incorporated into the mouth, nose, between the eyes and ears, and on the back of the head to help produce a whistling sound - and a coat detailed with striations as well as spots believed to symbolize the starry night with which the indigenous associated this nocturnal animal. A beautiful vessel, which still functions and whistles! Size: 11.875" L x 8.75" H (30.2 cm x 22.2 cm)
The Vicus culture is one of the earliest known ceramic making traditions in Peru, comparable to the Olmec in Mesoamerica, and in this vessel you can see the tradition that would lead to later styles like those of the Moche and the Inca.Vicus ceramics were in turn influenced by the Gallizano and Salinar cultures, north in Ecuador. We believe that Vicus ceramics like this piece played a role in funerary culture, as grave offerings, and in feasting, to drink ritual liquids.
Provenance: private California, USA collection
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Expected surface wear commensurate with age, but most of the decorative motifs are still vivid. Nice manganese deposits as well. In overall superb condition and the whistle still works!