Decorated cup - 2011.93.9_4


Decorated cup

Maker: Nasca Culture
Geography: Nazca Valley, Peru
Period: Early Intermediate Period (200 B.C.-A.D. 700)
11 h × 14 dia cm
Object number: 2011.93.9
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. David Robertson
Not on view

Nasca pottery is renowned for its vibrant use of colours – up to 10 or 12 on a single vessel – and intricate, highly stylized, abstract designs. Agricultural fertility was perhaps one of the main driving forces of Nasca culture, probably due to the arid conditions of the environment. Most elements depicted on pottery were animals, anthropomorphic figures, plants, or trophy heads, all of which were intimately associated with agriculture, the life-giving power of water, growth and productivity. It seems this vessel depicts some sort of plant. This vessel likely dates to Phase 4. The oval shapes with surrounding dots has been interpreted as a cross-section of a San Pedro cactus, whilst the multicoloured ‘V’ shapes enclosed by hooks may be interpreted as breechcloths. Similar to other cultures of the region, it is argued that hallucinogenic substances from cacti were consumed to aid in the communication with the spirit world. Depicting them together emphasizes this connection between people and use of cacti.

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