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Moche Blackware Vessel - Seated Crestfallen Man

Pre-Columbian, Peru, Moche, ca. 500 to 800 CE. A blackware molded stirrup vessel depicting a seated male figure - a man who appears to be either sleepy or sad - with upraised knees, arms crossed over his chest, what appears to be a sack over his left shoulder, and a tilted head presenting a melancholy visage with thoughtful eyes and other naturalistic features framed by his long coiffure with incised bangs and a shaved bald spot. A single stirrup spout joins his head to his back. Size: 7.125" H (18.1 cm)

The bald spot may simply have been a style to affiliate this gent with a particular cult or group; however, it is possible that this was done in preparation for a trepanation. Initially scholars believed that such a surgery was related to a ritual, the purpose of which was to release evil spirits from the individual. Today, some argue that it was done to relieve brain swelling resulting from head wounds or disease.

Condition: Minor surface wear commensurate with age. Possible repair to spout and stabilized pressure fissures on underside of base, but if so, then very well done.

Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex-Art for Eternity; ex-Estate of Saul Tuttman and Gregory Siskind, New York, USA

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