Art of the Ancient Americas
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Artist: Unknown

Portrait Vessel with a Stirrup Spout

A.D. 400–700

Ceramic with pigment

28.7 cm (11 5/16 in.)
base: 14.6 cm(5 3/4 in.)
28.7 × 14.6 cm (11 5/16 × 5 3/4 in.)
University Purchase
Moche artists were able to capture a personality in three dimensions, working with clay and limited color ranges of clay slip. This vessel was probably a portrait of a local ruler or the head of a clan. At least one other portrait vessel showing the same individual survives. In addition to his distinctive features, his serpent-design headband may have been a clue to his identity. The stirrup spout, widely used on the arid north coast of Peru, kept liquids from spilling and prevented evaporation.
Central Andes, Peru
On view
Central Andes, North Coast, Moche
Early Intermediate Period
Containers - Ceramics

Dr. Christopher B. Donnan, Moche Portraits from Ancient Peru (Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 2004), pp. 15, 21, fig. 2.5.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 322, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.