Double-spout bottle with flying figure

Nasca artist(s)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 202

Nasca artists of Peru's southern coast produced quantities of ceramic vessels in a variety of shapes. The surfaces of these vessels are usually very smooth and shiny, and—unlike contemporary wares from the North Coast—they are painted in as many as thirteen colors, including white, red, brown, gray, yellow, orange, and pink. The vibrant tones were achieved by applying slips colored with mineral-based pigments to the hardened, smooth surface before firing. This bottle is dome-shaped with two spouts joined by a straplike handle, hence the name "double-spout-and-bridge" bottle, a vessel type with a long history in the area. Two identical figures are shown, each grasping a head in one hand and a staff in the other. Their short bodies float sideways on a white background, and black outlining adds to the crispness of the complex imagery. The figures wear elaborate costumes consisting of a forehead ornament, mouth mask, pendant disks, necklace, tunic, loincloth, and cape, and have white, staring eyes and protruding tongues. Little faces animate the forehead ornament, the whiskers of the mouth mask, and staff, while profile heads appear on the cape. Such masked figures are common in Nasca art, where they are generally identified as mythical beings or deified ancestors.

Double-spout bottle with flying figure, Nasca artist(s), Ceramic, slip, Nasca

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