A Moche-Chimu Copper Toucan Coca Spoon, ca. 500 - 1000 CE
A pin-shaped copper coca spoon (also called lime spoon), used to measure lime powder in order to enhance the hallucinogenic properties when chewing coca leaves. The spoon features a fine toucan standing on a perch, wings folded, surmounting a long slender pin body fashioned at the end to create a small spoon for the lime powder.
Background: Andean societies thought of birds as precious resources; there was a roaring trade, for example, in parrot and macaw feathers from the Amazon Basin to the Andes so that they could adorn the garments of elites. Many birds appear in ancient Andean artwork, often depicted in ways that emphasized their perceived supernatural qualities and further showing the artisans were familiar with how real birds of many species looked. To the Moche, birds signified prestige, and the bright plumage of the parrot made it particularly valuable.
Condition: With a patina of rich dark brown, the spoon is intact and in very good condition overall. Custom mounted on a black base.
Dimensions: Height: 3 inches (7.5 cm)
Provenance: Jack Bregman private collection, acquired in the 1970s, ex. Fred Drew collection, thereafter private NYC collection.