Description Many vessels like these were originally painted with elaborate designs on their surface, but the decoration on this one, if it existed, seems to have worn away completely. The only ornamentation of the vessel is a small figure of a bird that perches on the handle of the vessel. The “stirrup spout” was one of the most common vessel forms in pre-Columbian Peru and the Andean area. A short spout at the top is attached to two tubes which join with the vessel itself. The form is reminiscent of a stirrup for horseback riding, hence the name. The resulting container was beautiful and versatile, since the main vessel could be shaped into many different forms, with a surface that was either carefully polished or highly textured. These vessels were also practical: in the extremely dry deserts of Peru, such a narrow opening prevented evaporation of the liquid held within. The complex shape of the neck also meant that it was easy to carry: two such vessels could be tied to the ends of a cord, to be slung over a person’s shoulder or a llama’s back. Large numbers of vessels like these have been found in burials of elites on the north Coast of Peru beginning about 1800 BCE.
Provenance Jack Lenor Larsen, New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Private collection, 1989 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 2009, by gift.
Credit Anonymous gift, 2009
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