Lime Dipper

Lime Dipper

c. 1-800


Overall: 22.8 cm (9 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1947.30


Coca-leaf chewing was a widespread ritual in ancient South America. Utensils included a container and a dipper or spoon for powdered lime (made from seashells), added to the coca to enhance its gentle, stimulating effect. Colombian cultures are especially known for transforming these utensils into works of art made of precious metal. The image on the tallest dipper is wonderfully complex. A serpent coils at the bottom, beneath a snarling animal with a huge, vertical tail. This animal has a tiny monkey on its back; the monkey also has a huge tail, which rests on the first animal’s head like a headdress. This intricate image was created with the lost-wax casting process.

See also
Art of the Americas
Type of artwork: 

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