Ancient Forms for the Modern Eye April 2018 - Page 99



XIV
Moche Owl Effigy Stirrup Vessel
Early Intermediate Period – Middle Horizon: 200 – 900 A.D.
Ceramic: Whiteware with red paint
Overall: 7 3/8 x 4 5/8 x 5 1/2 in. (18.7 x 11.7 x 14 cm)
This is a spouted vessel of standing three-toed owl done in white
slipped ceramic. Red slip pigment was applied to highlight the head
area. In Moche art owls are represented realistically, as here, and
anthropomorphically in many roles. Throughout the ancient Americas,
owls were associated with death because of their predatory, nocturnal
nature, mournful voices and frequent habitation near cemeteries. For
the Moche, the owl was a supernatural warrior, protector of warriors,
sacrificer of war captives and bird that carried dead captives to the
otherworld.
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