H. 10 x W. 5 11/16 x D. 5 1/16 in. (25.4 x 14.4 x 12.9 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick and Fletcher Funds, 1967
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 357
Cupisnique potters depicted a broad range of animals on their ceramic vessels, usually those that figured prominently in their mythology. Deer, widely distributed on both American continents, were an important food source and a favorite in myth and art. On this burnished blackware vessel, a small, naturalistically rendered deer is being carried on the broad shoulders of a heavy, seated man. The man's head, covered with a conical cap, leans forward with his load. His hands hold the front and hind legs of the animal. His face bears incised geometric designs, perhaps representing facial paint, tattoos, or scarification practiced in ancient times. The image of a man carrying a deer—perhaps a hunter carrying his booty—is an enduring one, known from many depictions on ceramics made in later times. It is possible that the figure depicts a mythical character recognizable to members of coastal societies over many centuries.