In the shape of a jaguar head, the large stirrup vessel features a molded face with a pronounced brow ridge over recessed eyes, upturned snout, wide grinning mouth with bared fangs, and rounded protruding ears. Decorated with incised facial outlines around the eyes, nose, and mouth, and concentric circles around the head that have been dusted with red cinnabar.
Located in the northern Andean highlands, the Chavin civilization flourished between 900 - 200 CE. The most well-known archaeological ruin of the Chavin era is Chavin de Huántar, located in the highlands north of Lima. Built around 900 BCE, it was the religious center of the Chavin people and is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
Chavin art is known for its complex iconography and its "mythical realism." There is constant evidence within all types of art (ceramics, sculptures, etc.) of human-animal interactions, which was reflective of societal interconnections and how the Chavin people viewed themselves as connected with "the other world." Additionally, feline imagery is seen at both highland and coastal ceremonial centers across Peru beginning as early as the second millennium BCE. Although this piece is naturalistically rendered, the circle-stamp motif is also observed in abstract and stylized ceramic vessels, suggesting that the spotted pelt held symbolic meaning at several religious centers during this time.
Dimensions: Height: 11 inches (28 cm), Width: 7 1/8 inches (18 cm)
Condition: The vessel is repaired from approximately twenty original pieces with restoration over the break lines, and the spout separately repaired and reattached. Overall scattered light surface deposits.
Provenance: Ex. Edward H. Merrin Gallery, Inc., NYC., 1970s-1980s, thereafter private NYC collection. Small Merrin Gallery label affixed to the base.