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Moche Pottery Stirrup Vessel - Sea Lion

Pre-Columbian, Peru (North Coast), Moche Culture, ca. 100 to 700 CE. A charming ceramic stirrup jar in the form of a sea lion, lying on one side, with its mouth open and a small ball between its teeth. The people of this culture would have seen sea lions along the coast. They seem to have associated the animals in some way with human sacrifices, and we know from Moche art that they were ritually hunted. Excavations of the site of Huaca de la Luna uncovered a tomb with a clay effigy of a sea lion and a sea lion canine tooth resting on the body's sternum. Some researchers have suggested that they are associated with humans because of the animals' abilities to live both on land and in the sea, making them occupy a liminal space in the minds of people whose cosmology was ordered around the natural world. Whatever its meaning, this whimsical representation of the animal is a delight to behold. Size: 7.55" W x 8.45" H (19.2 cm x 21.5 cm)

Condition: Handle has been repaired where it meets the body. Old wax from display is on the underside.

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

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