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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Chimu Art : Chimu Zoomorphic Drinking Vessel
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Chimu Zoomorphic Drinking Vessel - PF.4022
Origin: Northern Coast of Peru
Circa: 900 AD to 1200 AD
Dimensions: 6" (15.2cm) high
Catalogue: V5
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Chimu
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The Chimu culture arose around 800 A.D. and flourished until the Incan conquest about six hundred years later. Their civilization was centered at their capital Chan Chan, about 300 miles north of Lima, literally meaning “Sun Sun,” the largest Pre-Columbian city in Peru estimated to contain almost one hundred thousand citizens. The Chimu believed the sea, which they called “Ni,” was the origin of life, a theory also proposed by modern science and evolution. Thanks to their sea-faring skills, the Chimu were able to survive, nestled in between the desert and the sea. The sea was everything to them: an endless supply of food and the source of inspiration for their most imaginative myths, legends, and artwork. Agriculture was also vital, and the Chimu drew up a vast number of irrigation works demonstrating immense engineering skill, some of which are still in use today. Today, aside from the astounding mud ruins of Chan Chan remarkably well preserved in the heat of the desert, the Chimú are perhaps best known for their distinctive black glazed pottery influenced by their predecessors: the Moche.

The horn-shaped drinking vessel has always been a prominent design throughout the world, usually made out of deer horn. This vessel however, emulates that style to create a truly original piece. Made out of a fine-grained ceramic, the smoothness of the vessel is a clear sign of its exquisite quality. The curvature of the vessel is perfect, allowing every crevice to be filled with the perfect libation. The handle curves around to meet with the head of an animal, creating complete unity and symmetry to the piece. Delicately carved, the eyes, ears and mouth demonstrate the artist's skill. The highly polished finish of the vessel adds a beautiful sheen to the gray ceramic, making it irresistible to touch. Along the edge of the cup is a simple geometric band, creating uniformity with the overall design of the piece. Four holes have also been added to the vessel, functioning solely as a means for transportation. To understand the past, we look to art and discover, not only answers, but also more questions, creating an intriguing pattern, much like the one found on this piece, simple yet still intricate. - (PF.4022)


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