Portrait Vessel with a Stirrup Spout Artist: Unknown

A.D. 400–700

Art of the Ancient Americas

On view, 1st floor, Art of the Ancient Americas

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.


Ceramic with pigment


11 5/16 in. (28.7 cm)
base: 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm)
11 5/16 × 5 3/4 in. (28.7 × 14.6 cm)

Credit Line

University Purchase

Accession Number



Early Intermediate Period


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 records is ongoing.

  • 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
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

human figures (visual works), utilitarian objects, vessels

Technical metadata and APIs


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