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Chavin, Ecuador

Stirrup spout vessel

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Object Details

Culture

Chavin, Ecuador

Date

900-200 BC

Medium

Earthenware

Dimensions

9 1/16 × 5 11/16 × 1 9/16 inches (23 × 14.4 × 4 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Thomas Carroll, PhD 1951

Object
Number

2006.070.383

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a Chavín or Cupisnique ceramic vessel with a symmetrical stirrup spout.WHE(…)

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a Chavín or Cupisnique ceramic vessel with a symmetrical stirrup spout.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This stirrup-spout vessel was made in the northern coastal region of what is now Peru.HOW WAS IT MADE?The vessel was hand-built with the coiling method. In this method, a base is made by shaping clay into a flat disc. Then hand formed coils of clay, like ropes, are successively added to one another, building up the walls of the bowl. A tool such as a wooden paddle is used to smooth the sides both inside and out, leaving no trace of the coils. The stirrup spout was hand-built separately.The surface of vessel was burnished before it was fired in an earthen pit. After it was burnished, a sharp stylus was used to incise the fine lines of decoration that you see on the upper half of the vessel.HOW WAS IT USED?Bottles of this stirrup-spout type may have been used to carry and serve liquids, since the narrow-necked bottle shape would have reduced losses from accidental spills and evaporation. Although water is vital in desert environments such as those found in many parts of the Andes, recent analyses of residues from Peruvian bottles and jars suggest that most of them were used to serve corn (maize) beer or chicha. Chicha was both an everyday beverage, made in households for family consumption, and an essential element in ritual and social interactions.WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?Notice the very shallow, finely incised decorations of alternating poles and steps on the top half of the vessel. This is the only form of decoration on this particular piece, and is often a visual reference to mountains. The form of the vessel, with its stirrup spout, is common to many pre-Columbian vessels from the Andean region of South America.ABOUT THE CHAVÍN/CUPISNIQUE CULTURE:Named after the highland site of Chavín de Huántar, the Early Horizon (1000-200 BC) ceramics from northern Peru are also found in several coastal styles named after the sites of Cupisnique, Tembladera, and Chongoyape. Although stylistic differences exist between them, stirrup-spout bottles and feline imagery are common to all; it is thought that the spread of Chavínoid imagery reflects the distribution of a common religious cult rather than militaristic conquest. Though most Chavín/Cupisnique pottery is a monochrome gray-black color resulting form the use of smudge-firing, Tembladera and Chongoyape ceramics tend to include more color, generally pre-firing slip-painting or post-firing resin-painting (similar to that used in Paracas) applied within incised outlines. Incised decorations, areas of patterned burnishing, and elaborate modeling of people, animals, and other naturalistic themes are typical. In addition to producing a common ceramic tradition, Chavín-Period artisans also created hammered-metal ornaments from gold alloys.

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