stirrup vessel - ROM2013_13341_1


stirrup vessel

Maker: Nasca Culture
Geography: Nazca Valley, Peru
Period: AD 200-800
21.5 x 13.5 cm
Object number: 952.128.5
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. R.V. Le Sueur
Not on view

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 their 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. This effigy vessel is an example of a deity - the Mythical Harvester that symbolises agricultural fertility. This vessel, possibly dating to Phase 5, includes spots on its face which may represent the decoration worn during harvest festivals. The highly symbolic and complicated scene seems to depict creatures related to water – and possible water itself – flowing out of the harvester in layers: first through a grey creature, then from it dual, snake-like secondary streams of some possible sea creature, and a succeeding tertiary stream emerging from each, one of which containing what appears to be fish. Aside from holding plant stalks, the Harvester also has similar looking plants within its arms and lining its hat. Finally, a more traditional depiction of the harvester can be seen on its back holding up crops.

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