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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Chimu Art : Chimu Silver Bowl
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Chimu Silver Bowl - PF.1111
Origin: Northern Coast of Peru
Circa: 800 AD to 1400 AD

Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Silver

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.

Chimu aristocrats ruled a vast mountain empire surrounded by objects of splendid rarity and beauty. When a great lord died, he was buried amidst piles of treasure, so that his noble rank and privileges would continue in the afterlife. This silver bowl, perhaps used at an aristocrat's table, has an elegant shape that appeals to the contemporary eye. It is ornamented, however, with a rather startling motif. The human faces that adorn the upper rim represent the severed heads of enemy warriors. This juxtaposition of horror and beauty, of splendor and barbarity, epitomizes the spirit of the entire Chimu world. - (PF.1111)


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