Stirrup-spout bottle with pedestal base

CULTURE:
Chimú
DATE:
1000–1460
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General Description

The stirrup-spout bottle form was the most enduring decorated vessel type on the north coast of Peru. The burnished black vessels were produced through firing in a reducing atmosphere that transforms the mineral-rich clay color into this smooth ebony surface. Popular for over 3,000 years, this dark monochrome surface became nearly ubiquitous on the north coast during the Late Intermediate Period (900–1400 CE) and Late Horizon (1400–1532 CE) in the Sicán and Chimú styles.

The most characteristic element of Chimú bottles are the small applied figurines, often monkeys or birds, that appear at the juncture between spout and stirrup. Chimú vessels also incorporated mold-pressed designs. Principally displaying sea themes, such as fish and seashells, these mold-pressed designs continued through the Late Horizon and early Spanish Colonial period.

Other Chimú style vessels reflect the influence of Inca imperial expansion on coastal ceramic styles. While the stirrup-spout bottle was predominant in Chimú fine ceramic arts, Late Horizon Chimú blackware vessels exhibit the distinctive features of the common Inca vessel, the urpu, including the long, constricted neck, wide body, and pointed base.

Adapted from

  • Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, Inca: Conquests of the Andes / Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes, Label text [1608.61, 1608.65, 1608.104], 2015.

  • Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, Inca: Conquests of the Andes / Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes, Label text [1976.W.228; S.1970.1; 1987.376; 1989.W.235; 2003.28], 2015.

Fun Facts

  • In his 1976 report, Junius B. Bird, curator emeritus of South American archaeology at the American Museum of Natural History, notes: "Chimu - Late Intermediate Period. No number. Round section spout, blackware; plain, with flared base."