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Lot 101, Auction 3/1/2018: Post-Conquest Inca Silver Flask - Spanish Influence

Pre-Columbian, Central Peru, probably Cusco region, post-conquest Inca, ca. 1530 to 1550 CE. A very unusual silver flask, notable because while it clearly demonstrates silversmith skills mastered by the indigenous of the Andes, it also presents certain features that reveal Spanish influence. The vessel is adorned with a beautiful repoussé head presenting a face framed by a striated coiffure and three feathers on the forehead; this detail is especially significant, for it indicates that the image belongs to an Inca ruler and is thus an important portrait . Interestingly, this visage is delineated with features that venture more toward naturalism than was customary for the indigenous, and suggests Spanish influence. In addition, the lion paws on the twin handles that join the cylindrical spout to the shoulders are very European. To create this piece, the ancient metalsmith hammered a silver piece into a very thin sheet, and then used fine-grained stone anvils and hammer stones made of hematite or green porphyry, sometimes with animal hide attached, and a wooden template to create the form and its repoussé ornamentation, as the metalsmith hammered the silver sheet upon the wooden template. Clearly this was a piece was treated as one of great importance, as it boasts an elegant pedestaled form with meticulously delineated figural work and ornate lion paws. Size: 4.875" W x 7.375" H (12.4 cm x 18.7 cm)

Condition: Small dimple/dent on back side. Old firing mark on back created during the heating process. Some additional marks where the sheet metal was joined. Expected tarnish.

Provenance: private Ventura County, California, USA collection

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