A Silver Vase from Peru

Originally Published in 1930

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Tall silver vase with a human face with an eagle nose in repousse
Chimu Silver Vase, Peru
Museum Object Number: SA4611

THE tall silver vase illustrated on Plate X is probably the largest known specimen of a very characteristic type. It is not a new accession, since it was secured by Dr. Farabee in Peru in 1923, but its beauty has recently been brought out by the electrolytic cleaning process. These vases are characteristic of the ancient Chimu culture of the northern Peruvian Coast around the city of Trujillo. This was one of the earlier cultures of Peru and flourished probably in the early centuries of the Christian era, long before the rise to power of the Incas who later conquered it. The Museum already possesses two such vases of solid gold of similar shape but much smaller size [Compare, The Museum Journal, September, 1926.] All three vases are of similar type and technique, and illustrate the great ability of these ancient metalworkers.

The vase stands sixteen and one half inches high and is made, apparently, from one sheet of silver, hammered out, probably over a form. Impossible as this may seem in view of the nose, which projects to a distance of one and three-quarters inches, there is no evidence of soldering. If any process of soldering or welding were employed, the evidences have been completely obliterated.

At the back of the head two ears of corn are shown in repoussé, and the characteristic face is supposed to represent the Corn God. The vase was probably filled with chicao, the native beer, and placed in the grave in which it was found for the use of the spirit of the deceased.

Cite This Article

"A Silver Vase from Peru." Museum Bulletin I, no. 2 (February, 1930): 23-26. Accessed May 30, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/185/

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