The Testimony of Hands
Chimú Pottery

Not fakes ... we think!

Not fakes?
Photograph by B. Bernard

The demand for Precolumbian artifacts has led to a prosperous art-faking industry. No collector or museum is immune. Pottery fakes are always plentiful and some are made with great skill. To increase the fake object's market value, forgers add artificial patina, scratches, and other signs of age and use. The two stirrup-spout jars shown here are probably not fakes but because they come from the same collection as a group of three fake Peruvian artifacts, scholars should trust nothing that the collector was told about the objects (and only part of what can be seen). For art historians, the danger lies in the fact that when a fake is exhibited as genuine, it becomes one of the pieces by which other works are judged.

Catalogue No. 66.58.6

66.58.6, mold-made stirrup-spout jar
Late Chimú period (A.D. 1350–1470) to Chimú-Inka period (A.D. 1470–1532)
Probably Zaña River valley, north coast of Peru
Gift of Mrs. Leo F. Mermes
Photograph by B. Bernard

Catalogue No. 66.58.4

66.58.4, mold-made stirrup-spout jar
Middle Chimú (A.D. 1200–1350) to Late Chimu (A.D. 1350–1470) period
Probably Lambayeque River Valley, north coast of Peru
Gift of Mrs. Leo F. Mermes
Photograph by B. Bernard

The upper example is 17 centimeters (6 1/2 inches) tall. The lower one is 14 centimeters (5 1/2 inches) tall but would have been taller when the entire spout was present.

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