Aryballos with insects
About A.D. 1400–1532
Earthenware with colored slips
Funds from the Burgess Trust, Walt Disney Imagineering, Alianza de las Artes Americanas, and Frederick and Jan Mayer, 1993.25
In the course of little more than a century, the Inca, an ethnic group from Peru’s southern highlands, conquered a vast territory extending from Ecuador in the north to Chile and Argentina in the south. The numerous ethnic groups and independent political entities within these lands were not only conquered, but effectively integrated into a centrally administered political and economic system. Inca-style goods carried great prestige throughout the empire. Distinctively shaped and painted Inca ceramics were visible symbols of cultural and political affiliation. The arybalo jug is an emblematic Inca vessel form. This exceptionally large example is elaborately painted with motifs that include flamingos and insects.
Used for storing and serving liquids, including corn beer, arybalos functioned within a system of ritualized reciprocal obligations. At every level of government, leaders were expected to provide feasts for their subordinates, who in turn owed labor, military service, and allegiance. Corn beer was the most essential component of such feasts; serving it from a large and lavishly decorated arybalo emphasized the wealth and generosity of the Inca state.
- “Stampede: Animals in Art” — Denver Art Museum, 9/10/2017
- “ReVision: Art in the Americas” — Denver Art Museum, 10/24/2021 – 7/17/2022