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Currently shown

Cup: Spider Decapitators

Location

PERU, NORTH COAST

Era

1500-500 B.C.E.

Culture

Cupisnique

Title

Cup: Spider Decapitators

Materials

Steatite, incised decoration, traces of red pigment

Dimensions

6.3 cm (h.), 4.7 cm (diam.)

Credits

Gift of F. Cleveland Morgan, inv. 1960.Ad.2

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

The image of the spider decapitator in Cupisnique art is one of the oldest representations of sacrificer beings in the Americas. In this work, two spiders hold a ceremonial knife (tumi). What could be interpreted as a severed head appears on the abdomen of one of them. Red pigment, a few traces of which are still visible, likely alluded to the colour of blood. Before being purchased by F. Cleveland Morgan from the gallerist John Wise in New York, this cup belonged to Rafael Larco Hoyle, the founder of Lima’s Museo Larco and one of the pioneers of Peruvian archaeology. Among other things, in the 1940s he published the first chronologies of the ancient cultures of Peru’s north coast.

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