A superb Moche-Chimu Silvered Pectoral, ca. 800 - 1250 CE
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Finely wrought pectorals (chest ornaments) have been excavated at Chimu sites, and Moche ceramic vessels depict dignitaries wearing such collars. This superb example comprises thirteen large silvered-copper pendants of long tapered forms, each decorated with a repousse head of a chief wearing earspools and a large crescent-form headdress. Every one of the matching pendants is perforated through the top and bottom edges for suspension.
The pectoral’s bimetallic composition bears testament to the metallurgical and mechanical achievements of the Chimu artists. Joining silver to copper required expert knowledge of alloys, melting temperatures, welding techniques, and specialized construction methods. In nature, silver is not easily found in its pure metallic state, so great skill and technical knowledge is required for its processing. In Andean cosmology, gold and silver were considered to be divine so such a collar would have underscored the wearer’s control over resources, from the imported materials to the labor needed to create this fine work, and featured, no doubt, as part of the attire for an ancient Peruvian leader.
Condition: Eight have minor imperfections, five with larger losses that do not detract. Overall, the pectoral is in very good condition and presented on an outstanding museum quality custom mount.
Dimensions: Each pendant length: 4 inches (10.16 cm), Width: 1 5/8 inches at the widest point (4.12 cm)
Provenance: Edward H. Merrin Gallery Inc., NYC., acquired from Andre Emmerich, NYC, 1960s - 1970s.
Andre Emmerich (1924 – 2007) was a German-born American gallerist who specialized in the color field school and pre-Columbian art while also taking on artists such as David Hockney and John D. Graham. After graduating from Oberlin College and working as a writer, he opened his gallery in 1954, specializing in leading artists working in a wide variety of styles including Abstract Expressionism, Op Art, Color field painting, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Minimal Art, Pop Art and Realism, among other movements. He also specialized in and organized important exhibitions of pre-Columbian art, writing two acclaimed books, "Art Before Columbus" (1963) and "Sweat of the Sun and Tears of the Moon: Gold and Silver in Pre-Columbian Art" (1965).