Chimu Greyware Stirrup Vessel in the Form of a Seated Male

SKU PF.1879
Circa

800 AD to 1200 AD

Dimensions

6.75″ (17.1cm) high

Medium

Terracotta

Origin

Northern Coast of Peru

Gallery Location

USA


 

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 artists of ancient Peru recorded daily life with great accuracy and detail. In the absence of written records, the ceramic legacy provides an insightful glimpse into the customs and problems of this vanished world. To the modern eye, some of these images pose more of a mystery than a solution. Gestures and details are open to interpretation, the symbolic meaning is elusive. This exquisite figure has an impressive demeanor, alert and determined. The artist has emphasized the right hand gripping the left shoulder, and has shown a number or raised nodes on his knees. Is this an attitude of prayer? An indication of some medical condition? If the facts are unclear, lost to the centuries, the elegant beauty of this piece remains obvious.

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