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Spherical Vessel
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Spherical Vessel "Olla"

Description Provenance Credit
Description This spherical vessel on a short “foot” or base, is decorated with geometric designs. The vessel was made from a light-colored clay and then decorated using the “resist” technique, in which designs are painted on the surface in wax or resin, which “resists” a second layer of paint. When the rest of the vessel was covered with a pigment, probably a clay slip, in this case red or black, the result was a surface colored everywhere except where wax had been applied. During firing, the pigment was fixed and the wax dissolved, exposing the lighter clay beneath. In this case, possibly a second layer of red was applied to certain areas of the vessel after firing, reinforcing some of the vertical lines. This round vessel, known as an “olla,” was probably deposited in an ancient tomb as an offering for a deceased ancestor. The Carchí culture (ca. eighth to sixteenth centuries CE) that produced it was known for their particularly elaborate burials for chieftains, who were interred with jewelry, weaponry, and serving vessels such as this one. Carchí sites straddle the border between northern Ecuador and southern Colombia, in a series of river valleys interspersed with the peaks of the northern Andes, which encompass a broad range of climatic conditions. Similarly-shaped vessels to this one have been found in shaft tombs in the area, some reaching 150 feet in depth.
Provenance Economos Works of Art; purchased by John G. Bourne, Santa Fe, New Mexico, between 1990 and 1999; given to Walters Art Museum, 2013.
Credit Gift of John G. Bourne, 2013

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AD 750-1250 (Piartal phase)
earthenware, slip paint, negative resist decoration
Accession Number
H: 15 5/8 x Diam: 16 1/4 in. (39.7 x 41.2 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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