Seated Figure Bottle

Date: 2nd–5th century

Geography: Peru

Culture: Moche

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: Overall: 6 3/8 in. (16.19 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Containers

Credit Line: Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1882

Accession Number: 82.1.30


The noble posture of this elegantly dressed man with a grave, forward-looking gaze reveals his distinguished position in Moche society. Sitting cross-legged, a common pose for prominent Moche men, his disproportionately large hands rest on his knees. He wears a plain tunic and armbands, and his head is covered with a neatly folded turban bearing a snarling feline face on the front and a rounded ornament in back. Large round flares decorate his ears, and the hole in his nose once held an ornament, probably of gold. Also missing are the inlays from his eyes and, perhaps, from the earflares. In life, most of the ornaments worn—the feline mask, nose and ear ornaments, bracelets—would have been made of metal, but the projection from the back of the headdress was likely a small bundle of feathers.

Moche potters used two-piece molds for the production of vessels like the present example; the stirrup-spout, ornamental details, and surface modeling were done by hand.