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

A tall pottery kero in shades of red, orange, white, brown, gray and rust, the thin-walled cylindrical form with rounded base, decorated in two registers; the lower featuring a portrait head with curved eyebrows, diamond-shaped eyes, cheek decoration, the upper lip of the mouth with what appears to be a thin moustache. The upper register boldly painted with a mythical being or demon, on a clean, white background, the face with a feline forehead ornament, white staring eyes and protruding tongue, the serpent body wraps around the vessel and is  elaborately decorated. 

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), 6(3):229-254. and

Proulx, Donald A.  The Nasca Style, in Pre-Columbian Sculptured and Painted Ceramics  from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Katz, Lois, ed. Pp. 87-106.

Dimensions:  Height: 14.28 cm ( 5 5/8 inches),   Diameter:  35.56 cm (14 inches around the perimeter)

Condition:  Complete, reassembled from approximately twelve large pieces with professional overpainting that does not impact the design.  

Provenance: Private Californian collection, acquired from the trade in the late 1950's/early 1960's and then by descent.

Such masked figures are common in Nazca art, where they are generally identified as mythical beings or demons, or they may depict real masked individuals involved in ritual headhunting.elaborately decorated elaborately decorated 
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