A Moche-Chimu Silver Bird Coca Spoon, ca. 1100 - 1450 CE

Object No: PB2003

$450 USD
A pin-shaped silver coca spoon (also called lime spoon), used to measure lime powder in order to enhance the hallucinogenic properties of other drugs. The spoon features a bird finial perched on a post, the wings partially spread as if about to take flight, surmounting a long slender body fashioned at the end to create a small spoon for the lime powder.

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. A huge variety of birds appears in ancient Andean artwork, often depicted in ways that both emphasized supernatural qualities they were believed to have but also showing that the artisans were familiar with what real birds of many species looked like. To the Moche, birds signified prestige, and the bright plumage of the parrot made it especially valuable.

Condition: Bird and perch have been cleaned down to the gleaming silver, the rest of the spoon with heavy verdigris patina. It is intact and in very good condition overall.

Dimensions: Height: 3 1/4 inches (8.3 cm)

Provenance: Jack Bregman private collection, acquired in the 1970s, ex. Fred Drew collection, thereafter private NYC collection.

 

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