Shell-Form Canteen with Deity Face
Shell-form Canteen with Deity Face
Wari, Atarco style
About A.D. 850–1000
Peru, south coast
Earthenware with colored slips
Gift of Olive Bigelow by exchange, 1996.35
This bottle takes the form of a spondylus (thorny oyster) shell, valued by ancient Peruvians for its bright orange color and its sacred associations. Spondylus mollusks do not thrive in the cold waters off Peru’s coast, so they had to be imported from southern Ecuador, where the Pacific is warmer. Painted on the front of the bottle is the head of the Wari and Tiwanaku civilizations’ principal deity. It has a fanged mouth, vertically divided eyes, and elaborate markings around the eyes. Rays project from the head, suggesting that this deity was a celestial being. The bright colors of the slips and precisely delineated images are typical of the finest-quality Wari ceramics.
- "Tiwanaku: Ancestors of the Inca" — Denver Art Museum, 10/16/2004 - 1/23/2005
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