A pottery stirrup spout vessel, painted cream ground with a red-brown painted fineline decoration. The vessel has identical depictions on either side, showing a figure with a human body, angry looking, a sharp nose or beak, and wearing a semi-circular headdress which is elaborately feathered and might represent sun rays. He is pointing at a figure in the corner of the scene, who is only partly visible and who is bat-headed.
In a central register, next to the point where the vessel connects to the stirrup spout, is a depiction of a large spider on either side; a stylised double spider is visible under the spout.
The central figure in the main scene represents the god Naymlap (also Naylamp), who was said to be the legendary founder of Sican and also the founder of the first dynasty of kings of the Lambayeque valley. In mythology (as first recorded in 1586 A.D. by the Spanish priest and chronicler Miguel Cabello de Balboa in his Miscelánea Antártica, une Historia del Peru Antiguo), Naymlap traveled over the Pacific Ocean on a balsa raft with a large entourage including 40 officials. After he had gone ashore in the Lambayeque area, he became king of the Lambayeque valley and founded a large city, as did his offspring. According to legend, when Naylamp died, he sprouted wings and flew off to another world (Sharpe, p. 18, 65). His image dominates the iconography of Sican, and he is sometimes shown with avian features, such as beaks, wings, and talons (Shimada, p. 52), and it has been suggested that his name is actually Ñañlap, of which the first part is ñañ "waterfowl" in the Moche language.
The ancient authenticity of the vessel was confirmed by a thermoluminescence test. A copy of the TL test report accompanies the object.
Christopher B. Donnan, “Assessment of the Validity of the Naymlap Dynasty” in Michael E. Moseley - Alana Cordy-Collins (eds.), The Northern Dynasties. Kingship and Statecraft in Chimor: a Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 12th and 13th October 1985 (Washington, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1990), p. 243-274;
Colleen Sharpe, Ancient Peru Unearthed. Golden Treasures of a Lost Civilization (Calgary, The Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, 2006);
Izumi Shimada, "The Late Prehispanic Coastal States" in Laura Laurencich Minelli (ed.), The Inca World. The Development of Pre-Columbian Peru, A.D. 1000-1534 (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), p. 49–82.
Moche V, circa 550-750 C.E.
Height circa 22 cm.
Dutch private collection, acquired from Arte Primitivo, New York, 20 May 2004, lot 208; before that US private collection, acquired around 1973.
Some minor damage to the rim of the spout and the body of the vessel, as visible on the photographs; the spout has been professionally reattached; a hairline on the upper vessel has been professionally repaired; very light paint loss and a few pocks. Two minuscule holes where samples for the TL test were taken. A fine and beautiful example.