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Chavin Pottery Llama Stirrup Vessel

Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Chavin, Santana-Santa River, ca. 900 to 500 BCE. An incredible ceramic stirrup vessel in the form of a stylized llama or alpaca with incised harpy eagle heads and glyphs highlighted in black color on a deep red background. The body of the animal is sturdy, with the small head and tail projecting from either end. The head has cute, curved ears and long, almond-shaped eyes. The stirrup and spout are similarly sturdy and thick, pleasing to hold and with a wide, flared mouth. Size: 4.15" L x 8.9" W x 9" H (10.5 cm x 22.6 cm x 22.9 cm)

Llamas and their kin, alpacas, are the largest animals domesticated in the New World, originating from the wild guanaco. This seems to have occurred around 2000 to 1500 BCE, with the process of domestication lasting several hundred years. By the time of the Chavin, when their capital, Chavin de Huantar, influenced a massive area of Peru from the Lambayeque Valley to Ayacucho, the animals were herded and hunted as a matter of course. Dried llama meat known as ch'arki, traded from high altitude environments to the coast, was a luxury food. This vessel would have been a symbol of wealth for its owner, who was probably buried with it containing a sacred liquid offering.

Condition: Tiny chip from rim. Repaired and restored from multiple pieces. The restoration is excellently done and almost impossible to see.

Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private Hart collection, San Diego, California, USA

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