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Stirrup Spout Bottle Representing a Deity

Moche, Early Intermediate Period
0 - 650
28.7 cm x 13.5 cm x 16 cm (11 5/16 in. x 5 5/16 in. x 6 5/16 in.)

On view


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Additional Image Three-quarter view
Three-quarter view

Wrinkle Face, one of the best-known Moche deities, is depicted with a fanged mouth and bulging eyes. He has face paint on his cheeks, chin, and nose, and he wears a feline headdress and serpent earrings. His collar has geometric designs, and it was created as a separate chamber sealed off from the body of the bottle and filled with small pellets that cause it to rattle when moved. In other representations, Wrinkle Face is often accompanied by an anthropomorphized iguana, and he participates in scenes of burial, mythic combat, and a game with sticks and beans.

Ceramics in the Andes were produced without the help of potters’ wheels. Most Moche potters operated in workshops situated in urban areas, where they used molds to produce large quantities of vessels for the elite. They avoided exact duplication through the addition of appliquéd, modeled, or painted decoration. One of the most common vessel forms was the stirrup spout bottle, which may have had certain practical advantages, such as limiting evaporation in a dry climate. Bottles of similar shape are known from earlier times, including the Chavín culture. Yet creating such vessels was a technical challenge, and, in addition to practical concerns, it is likely that the Moche had social and ideological reasons for producing this kind of pot. Certainly they were used widely throughout their territory. Vessels like this one, bearing the likeness of an important Moche personage, have been found hundreds of kilometers apart. Their style and decoration introduced farflung communities to Moche culture and technology.

Benson, Elizabeth P. 1972 The Mochica: A Culture of Peru. Art and Civilization of Indian America. Praeger, New York. pl. IV.

Benson, Elizabeth P. 1992 The World of Moche. In The Ancient Americas: Art from Sacred Landscapes, Richard F. Townsend, ed., pp. 303-315. Art Institute of Chicago; Prestel Verlag, Chicago; Munich. p. 305-306, fig. 7.

Boone, Elizabeth Hill (ED.) 1996 Andean Art at Dumbarton Oaks. Pre-Columbian Art at Dumbarton Oaks; No. 1. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C. vol. 1, p. 127-128, pl. 23.

Bühl, Gudrun (ED.) 2008 Dumbarton Oaks: The Collections. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 270-1.

Exhibition History
"The Ancient Americas: Art from Sacred Landscapes", Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 10/10/1992 - 1/3/1993; Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, 2/14 - 4/18/1993; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, 6/6/ - 8/15/1993.

Acquisition History
Gift to Dumbarton Oaks by Michael D. Coe, 1970.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.

Anthropomorphic | Fangs | Felines | Moche | Serpents | Stepped Patterns | Wrinkle-face