A Nasca Terracotta Bowl, Southern Peru, ca. 350 - 400 AD


A large and superb pottery bowl decorated with three abstract zoomorphs, each painted in tan, brown, white and black against a red/brown background.

Background:  The Nazca people of Peru's southern coast produced quantities of ceramic vessels in a variety of shapes. The surfaces of these vessels are usually very smooth and shiny, and—unlike contemporary wares from the north coast—they are painted in as many as thirteen colors, including white, red, brown, gray, yellow, orange, and pink. The vibrant tones were achieved by applying slips colored with mineral-based pigments, outlined in black, to the hardened, smooth surface before firing.   Although finely decorated Nazca vessels were made in specialized workshops, recent discoveries in small habitation sites show that the use of painted plates and open bowls was not limited to people living in monumental sites. These vessels were widely distributed among the population and used in households of any socioeconomic status. Plates and bowls were probably obtained during feasts, which gave opportunities to elites to enhance their own status by displaying and distributing prestigious crafts among the population.  

For related examples see: Schreiber, Katharina, and Josué Lancho Rojas: The Puquios of Nasca. Latin American Antiquity (1995) and

Proulx, Donald A. The Nasca Style, in Pre-Columbian Sculptured and Painted Ceramics  from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Katz, Lois, ed.

Dimensions:  Diameter: 19.05 cm (7.5 inches)

Condition:  Intact and in excellent condition overall. 

Provenance:   Ex-M. VanBuskirk collection acquired from Arte Primitivo Gallery, NYC.

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