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"Ch'uspa" (Coca Leaf Bag)


Description Provenance Credit
Description This piece, with no figurative imagery, is similar to Aymara textiles of Bolivia, which are often dominated by the contrast of broad and narrow stripes across traditional tunics and other garments. This piece clearly highlights its functional use: the heighten the hunger-dulling and anti-fatigue effects of the coca leaves, they are often chewed with a bit of llipta, a mixture of lime (calcium carbonate) and ash, which may be stored with leaves in a separate pocket of the ch'uspa. As this pouch is divided into three compartments, it could have held both materials easily. When the owner felt tired, he could wrap leaves around the lime and put the bundle into his cheek. Over time, enzymes in his saliva would help the coca's narcotic compounds to be slowly released.
Provenance Purchased by Georgia de Havenon, New York; given to Walters Art Museum, 2016.
Credit Gift of Georgia and Michael de Havenon, 2016

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Creators
Period
19th century
Medium
camelid fibers
Accession Number
2011.20.17
Measurements
H: 5 1/8 × W: 6 1/2 in. (13 × 16.5 cm)
Geographies
  • Bolivia (Place of Origin)
  • Peru (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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