An erotic fertility stirrup vessel, consisting of a rectangular base, on top of which two erect phalluses are shown at opposite sides, facing opposite ways and connected by a single stirrup handle. Both phalluses have an opening on top, and one of them has 13 drilled holes around the top. One of the previous owners claims to have tested the vessel, and that it is perfectly working, providing different notes from the drilled holes.
There are several ways of producing a tone, by blowing air into the vessel, by boiling water inside it (so that the steam generates a sound, comparable to what happens with a tea kettle), or by pouring water into it, especially if this consists of two communicating chambers; when these are partly filled with water and the vessel is tilted, the water will flow from one chamber to the other, compressing the air in the lower chamber so that it is forced out through a narrow canal, producing a whistling sound. When blown by mouth into a vessel that is partly filled with water, the vessel will trill. It is likely that whistling vessels with one chamber were always brought to sound in this manner only, as the movement of water in one chamber will not compress the air.
Vicus was a culture in the northernmost part of the Pacific coastal area of Peru; archaeologically the culture is not yet clearly dated, and various sources give different dates, starting somewhere between 1000 B.C. and 200 B.C. and lasting until between 300 C.E. and 600 C.E.
Friedemann Schmidt, “The Peruvian Whistling Vessels of the Museum of Ethnology Berlin. A Research from the Acoustic and Technological Point of View” in Ellen Hickmann - Arnd Adje Both - Ricardo Eichmann a.o. (eds.), Musikarchäologie im Kontext. Archäologische Befunde, historische Zusammenhänge, soziokulturelle Beziehungen. Vorträge des 4. Symposiums der Internationalen Studiengruppe Musikarchäologie im Kloster Michaelstein, 19.-26. September 2004 (Orient-Archäologie, Band 20; Studien zur Musikarchäologie, V) (Rahden/Westf., Verlag Marie Leidorf, 2006), p. 143-159.
Vicus, circa 200 B.C. - 200 C.E.
Length 23 cm at its widest point, height 22.5 cm.
Dutch collection, acquired from Malter Galleries, USA, around 2004; before that in a Florida private collection; before that in an old Canadian collection, acquired in the 1960s.
Repaired from a few large fragments with some minor restoration where the handle joins the phallus; minor surface damage, scratching and wear and some encrustation. TL tested.