The Testimony of Hands


40.14.3, purely decorative ceramic vessel
Nazca culture, Peru (300 B.C.–A.D.800)
Gift of Dr. D. M. MacCornack
Photograph by B. Bernard

Most pottery consists of useful objects with aesthetic enhancements, but a few are designed to be art objects in themselves. The past was no different, as this Nazca polychrome vessel shows. While the vessel could hold liquids and perhaps once did, the amount of effort that went into designing and producing the vessel indicates that its primary purpose was to be a piece of art. This artist who created this piece lived at least 1200 years ago. The contrasting colors derive entirely from mineral pigments.

"KLM" of Albuquerque asked about the holes for adding liquid. The two chimney-like parts at the top are actually twin spouts. In response to her request, here's a snapshot of the top of the vessel, looking down.

40.14.3, from above

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