BRIEF DESCRIPTIONAn effigy vessel is a container that is made in the shape of a person or an animal. This Sicán ceramic vessel is in the form of a two-headed creature.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This vessel is most likely from the north coast of what is now Peru, probably from the Sicán culture centered in the Lambayeque Valley.HOW WAS IT MADE?The Sicán made many of their ceramics using two-part press molds, a technique that enabled potters to make multiple pots of uniform design. First an original form was made from clay. After creating the mold (also ceramic) from this original, clay would be pressed into each half, and then later joined together. Sometimes hand modeling or coiling would also be utilized, and more than one technique could be used to produce a single pot.HOW WAS IT USED?The function of pre-Columbian ceramic vessels is not easy to ascertain. Were these vessels made for the dead, fancy grave goods with specific religious or mythical imagery, or were they treasured possessions used in life? Or both?Although most pottery made in the past was functional ware used to cook, store, or serve foods, more elaborate pieces also conveyed social information. It appears that pre-Columbian people may have had special pots for display in their homes or for use during special occasions. According to the earliest chroniclers after the Spanish conquest, people put pottery on display in their homes that reflected what they did to make a living; for example, fishermen displayed pots with sharks in their homes, while hunters displayed pots with deer and other land animals.Vessels like this one may have been used to carry and serve liquids, since the narrow-necked 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?The pedestal base of this vessel is characteristically Sicán. Look at the two heads on the vessel. At one end is a helmeted human head; on the other is a zoomorphic (animal like) monster with fangs and wings. Aspects of many different animals can be found on pre-Columbian pottery, textiles, and metalwork. They depict wild and domesticated animals, creatures commonly encountered in everyday life, and creatures found rarely—or not at all—in the natural world. These animals are often mixed with human attributes in what may appear to us to be startling fantasy combinations.ABOUT THE SICÁN CULTURE:The Sicán culture flourished in the Lambayeque Valley after the fall of the Wari and spread to control a large part of the Peruvian coast, including the valleys of La Leche, Saña, and Jequetepeque. Stylistic similarities between Sicán and the earlier Moche and the later Chimú ceramic traditions have caused a great deal of confusion in the classification of Sicán pottery in the past. Like Moche, Sicán ceramics may have a red-on-white color scheme; like Chimú, they are frequently made of blackware. Like Wari, Sicán pottery is characterized by double-spout-and-bridge vessels with tapered spouts. Pedestal bases are common, while stirrup-spout bottles are not. Rich burials attest to the tremendous level of artistic accomplishment achieved by Sicán goldsmiths. The Sicán culture was conquered by the Chimú around AD 1370.