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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Art of Peru : Terracotta stirrup spout vessel
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Terracotta stirrup spout vessel - CB.2757
Origin: Peru
Circa: 700 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 9.5" (24.1cm) high
Collection: Mesoamerican Art
Style: Chimú
Medium: Terracotta

Location: Great Britain
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The Chimú culture was geographically centered on the northern coast of Peru, in the Moche River Valley, close to the present-day populous city of Trujillo, Peru and culturally grew out of the remnants of the Moche culture. The Moche or Mochica civilization, often identified as Early Chimú was the oldest civilization on the north coast of Peru. The beginning of civilisation is not known with certainty but it ended around 700 CE. The Chimú resided on the north coast of Peru, between the Pacific ocean and the western slopes of the Andes. The valley plains in the area are very flat and well-suited to irrigation and fishing was considered as important as agriculture. The Chimú were known to have worshipped the moon and offerings played an important role in religious rites. A common object for offerings, as well as one highly valued, traded by the Chimú people and used by their artisans, was the thorny shell of the Spondylus shellfish, which lives only in the warm coastal waters off present-day Ecuador. The Chimú are best known for their distinctive monochromatic pottery and fine metal working of copper, gold, silver, bronze, and tumbaga (copper and gold). Their pottery shapes often imitate the forms of mythological creatures or takes after a human figure sitting or standing on a cuboid bottle. The shiny black finish of most Chimú pottery was achieved by firing the pottery at high temperatures in a closed kiln, which prevented oxygen from reacting with the clay. A stirrup spout vessel (so called because of its spout’s resemblance to a ridding saddle stirrup) is a type of ceramic vessel made for ritual use and common among several Pre- Columbian cultures of South America at the beginning in the early 2nd millennium BC. In these vessels the stirrup handle actually forms part of the spout, which emanates from the top of the stirrup. The jars, which were often elaborately figurative, would be cast from a mold, while the stirrup spout was built by hand and welded to the vessel with slip. Large numbers of them have been found in elite burials on Peru's northern coast and display unequalled technical and artistic skill. Many are elaborated into three- dimensional sculptures, including humans, plants, animals and supernatural beings; others show a wide range of surface texturing. The majority of these vessels are a monochrome gray-to-brown black color resulting from firing in a reducing atmosphere. The uneven exposure to fire and air left the surface on this vessel with an irregular dark hue. In each of the sides there are two animals represented, much looking like mice, catching a serpent. - (CB.2757)


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