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Double spout and bridge pottery vessel
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This jar depicts a fantastic bird with a human face, adorned with a mouth mask and a diadem. The bird is holding a human trophy head in its mouth. Ritual beheading was a common practice in the Andes and scenes of decapitation are painted on Nasca vessels.

Some birds depicted in Nasca art are quite naturalistic, while others combine fantastic and anthropomorphic elements. Certain birds are still revered in the Andean region today. People of the modern town of Nasca believe that such birds as the condor, pelican and heron are manifestations of the mountain gods. To catch sight of one of these birds means that rain will fall in the mountains.

The technique and range of colours used on this large vessel mark the peak of Nasca achievement. Nasca artists used more colours than any other culture in the Americas before European contact.

Double spout and bridge pottery vessel

From Peru, Nasca culture (200 BC – AD 600).
Ht. 30 cm.
Gift of Lady Dow Steel-Maitland.

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