A dark brown pottery vessel with a long neck ending in a flaring mouth, and a bulbous, slightly tapered body, which is divided in vertical sections or panels. Several of these show an engraved, stippled ornamentation, possibly in imitation of stone or wooden vessels, imitating the polyhedron carved style which is typical of Chavin art and can be found as one of two common pottery shapes (compare Tello 1943, p. 158). It is likely that the contrasting and alternating panels are related to the visual dualism that can often be observed in Andean art, and that was based on the complementarity between life and death as well as other opposing ideas, such as male and female, left and right, night and day, sun and moon, or mountain peaks and valleys. This visual dualism can be seen in the temple of Chavin de Huantar with its half-white, half-black staircase, flanked by engraved columns showing a male and a female anthropomorphized bird. The same dualism was also exploited by artists who made objects from precious metals, contrasting silver and gold, and on woven textiles. In addition to these, ceramic vessels could also express symbolic dualism (see Bernier 2009).
The Chavín culture was a civilization in the northern Andean highlands of Peru. The culture is named after the principal archaeological site, Chavín de Huantar. The culture flourished from circa 900 B.C. until circa 200 B.C.
A thermoluminescence test was performed on the vessel, showing that the object was last fired circa 2300 years ago, with a margin of 20%.
Hélène Bernier, “Dualism in Andean Art” in Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009); Julio C. Tello, “Discovery of the Chavín Culture in Peru”, American Antiquity volume 9, no. 1: Countries South of the Rio Grande (Cambridge University Press, 1943), p. 135-160.
Peru, Chavin, circa 800 - 100 B.C.
Height 22 cm.
Provenance: US private collection, New York city, acquired before 1985; thereafter with Arte Primitivo, New York, 21 March 2006, lot 106; thereafter Dutch private collection.
A small restoration to the rim of the lip, otherwise intact and in excellent condition; an inventory label underneath; two minuscule holes caused by taking a sample for the TL test.