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Moche Pottery Stirrup Head Vessel - Leishmaniasis

Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Moche IV, ca. 500 to 700 CE. A mold-formed and highly-burnished pottery vessel with a flat base, a bulbous body, a stirrup-shaped handle, and a vertical spout. The body depicts a striking portrait of a victim of leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease. While the almond eyes, contoured cheeks, and rounded chin imbue a sense of normalcy to the face, the lack of a nose or upper lip indicate the disease has "eaten away" these facial components and caused severe, irreversible damage. Note how the tongue and bottom lip project outwards beneath a row of grooved teeth. The head is adorned with a simple white-painted head wrap which wraps beneath his chin. The Moche often portrayed people with such conditions. Scholars believe that, to the Moche, such deformities were regarded as signs that these individuals were chosen by the deities themselves for a higher purpose. Size: 4.875" W x 10.125" H (12.4 cm x 25.7 cm).

Condition: Top half of vertical spout restored with resurfacing and overpainting along break lines. Significant overpainting to most areas of neck, head, head wrap, and stirrup handle. Minor nicks and abrasions commensurate with age, with pitting to some areas of body and spout. Light earthen deposits throughout. Old inventory information pecked into base.

Provenance: private Southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s

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