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Currently shown

"Portrait Vessel"-type Stirrup-spout Bottle

Location

PERU, NORTH COAST

Era

250-900 C.E.

Culture

Mochica

Title

"Portrait Vessel"-type Stirrup-spout Bottle

Date

450-900 C.E.

Materials

Earthenware, slip, painted decoration

Dimensions

30.5 x 17.5 x 15.5 cm

Credits

Purchase, gift of F. Cleveland Morgan, inv. 1948.Ad.38

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Pre-Columbian artists and artisans seem to have most often emphasized uniform facial features, which conveyed the role or rank of the person portrayed, at the expense of individualized ones. Some Mochica head-shaped vessels are possible exceptions. Christopher Donnan is among the scholars who believe they are actual portraits of important figures, on the basis of the recurrence of certain features on faces depicted at various ages and with different adornments. This one wears one of the most common types of headdress, a turban covering the hair and a band of fabric decorated with geometric motifs on the forehead. Whether it is a faithful portrait of an individual who died many centuries ago or a more generic representation, this “portrait vessel” underlines the significance among the Mochica of that part of the body as the seat of identity.

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