Description The "aquilla" (when executed in metal) or "kero" (when made of wood) was the principal ritual libation vessel among the peoples of ancient Peru, Bolivia, and northern Chile. This distinctive vessel form has ancient origins but became particularly prevalent during the Early Intermediate Period (100 - 600 CE). This dynamic time witnessed socio-political intensification and an increase in the numbers of political elites throughout the Andes, with an interconnected multiplication of aristocratic ceremonial events that emphasized hierarchy and authority. The ritual consumption of "chicha" (maize beer), the mildly alcoholic beverage traditionally served in keros, was integral to these politically charged social events. These special drinking vessels often were made and used in pairs following the pan-Andean belief in reciprocity and communal sharing as a potent unifying principle of social practice. This silver pair (TL.2009.20.218 and TL.2009.20.219), which reportedly was excavated at the site of Huacho in the Chancay Valley, represents this key precept of Andean ideology. The Chancay elite maintained socio-political hierarchy, in part, by controlling the production and use of precious metal objects. Their tombs were furnished with gold and silver items as well as fine textiles woven with such elaborate techniques as brocade, gauze-weave, double-cloth, openwork fabrics, and painted cloth. Kero-like vessels are frequently depicted in scenes of ritual sacrifice, wherein they were used to contain sacrificial blood. The brimming vessel then was presented to the scene's key figure as a symbolic libation or was offered to the earth (equated with the creator deity Pacha Mama).
- Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville. 2012-2013.
- Gold of the Ancient Americas. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2015.
Provenance Andre Emmerich, Inc., New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; purchased by John G. Bourne, January 31, 1969; given to Walters Art Museum, 2014.
Credit Gift of John G. Bourne, 2014
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