Overall: 14.6 x 10.2 cm (5 3/4 x 4 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2015.8
Highly valued as a luxury material, spondylus shells served as symbols of power and prestige.
This beaker was created by an artist of the Lambayeque culture of Peru's north coast. Shells appear in the upper register representing spondylus, the red-orange thorny oyster greatly valued by pre-Hispanic Andean societies. If such beakers were used in life—that is, not created exclusively for the lavish tombs in which they have been found in quantities—they may have figured in feasting events that were central to late pre-Hispanic political, social, and religious life.
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