Art of the Ancient Americas
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Maker: Unknown

Female Figure Carrying a Vessel for Chicha (Maize Beer) or Water



4.5 × 1.3 × 2 cm (1 3/4 × 1/2 × 13/16 in.)
Gift of Thomas T. Solley, B.A. 1950
The metallurgical arts achieved a high level of sophistication under the Inca, who came to control the whole of Peru for almost a century prior to the Spanish conquest of the region. This tiny figurine of solid silver depicts a woman carrying an olla (water jar) on her back. The jar is attached to her by means of a rope, one end of which wraps around her waist; the other wraps around her neck, where she grasps it with her hands. Her lowered head and slightly forward shoulders create the impression of a weary figure carrying a heavy load. At the top and back of the woman’s head are two small holes, which would have allowed the figurine to be strung as a pendant or attached as an ornament.
Central Andes, Peru
Central Andes, Inca
Late Horizon

Thomas T. Solley (1924–2006), Bloomington, Ind., to 2002; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


“Acquisitions 2002,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2003): 131.

Heather Lechtman, Pre-Columbian Metallurgy of South America (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1979), pgs 1–40.

George A. Kubler, The Art and Architecture of Ancient America, 3d ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 1984).

Rebecca Stone-Miller, Art of the Andes: From Chavin to Inca (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995).

Colin McEwan and Penny Dansart, Precolumbian Gold: Technology, Style, and Iconography (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000), primarily about nude figurines made of hammered metal.

Heidi King, Rain of the Moon: Silver in Ancient Peru, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000).

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.