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Rare & Large Narino Bichrome Enema Vessel - Male Form

Pre-Columbian, Colombia, Narino culture, ca. 850 to 1500 CE. An exceptionally rare and very large fired bichrome enema vessel in the form of a plump man holding a bowl to his chest. His body is decorated with red on beige negative resist in geometric patterns that suggest waves or mountains. His arms, legs, and genitals are in relief, raised up from the round body of the vessel, as is his face. He wears a dark red headdress and has painted facial details that may be indicative of tattooing or scarification. Comes with custom stand. Size: 3.85" W x 16.2" H (9.8 cm x 41.1 cm)

The geometrically-painted area of the body is burnished, while the rest has been left buff; the top of the head is a wide, flared spout with a slightly rolled rim. Below the body is a long ceramic tube, sculpted as one with the bowl, for insertion that is burnished to be very smooth and painted the same earthy red slip as the body's details.

What was the purpose of such an item? According to Peter deSmet, author of "Ritual Enemas and Snuffs in the Americas", many pre-Columbian societies practiced the ritual insertion of enemas (clyster) of alcohol and hallucinogens in order to enter an altered state of consciousness and partake in shamanic and religious rituals. Artwork from Mayan vases (although a culture far from the Narino, we believe the actions are analogous) show figures receiving enemas through syringes similar to this one. This was an exceedingly risky way to ingest these drugs, and shows the level of commitment that people had to becoming receptive to religious visions.

Another option for the use of this vessel is as a holder for funerary offerings containing the maize-based alcoholic drinks paccha or chicha.

Provenance: Ex- Private Atlanta, GA collection

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