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Chancay Pottery Standing Female Figure Cuchimilco

Chancay Pottery Standing Female Figure Cuchimilco

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Pre-Columbian era, Chancay culture, 1000-1470 AD, Peru.

Magnificent bichrome female cuchimilco ("star gazer") pottery figure of a hollow-molded and stylized form with painted details. This figure stands on two delineated legs and flat feet with short arms outstretched and the head pointed skyward. The figure bears delineated genitalia below a broad abdomen, a slightly indented naval cavity, and small breasts. Sides of the body with small openings that lead into the body, these openings acted as vents during the firing process but may have held additional ornamentation. Her elongated head display an expressive visage with wide circular eyes and painted pupils, a protruding pinched nose and small mouth. She wears a elaborately painted headband of linear and zigzag forms. A band of perforations along the top of the head. Additional black-painted details adorn her eyes, cheeks, hands, and chin perhaps suggestive of ritual scarification marks or tattooing. The exact function of these figures is unknown, but it is thought that they may have acted as guardians to the tombs of the Chancay people, or as companions in the afterlife. The cuchimilco figure are often created or found in pairs, male and female, which indicates the importance of divine duality.

The Chancay were a pre-Columbian archaeological civilization which developed between the valleys of Fortaleza, Pativilca, Supe, Huaura, Chancay, Chillón, Rimac and Lurin, on the central coast of Peru from c. 1000AD-1470AD. The Chancay culture is defined archaeologically by a distinctive and homogeneous ceramic style. These ceramics are known from extensive cemeteries in the Chancay region, where they were included in burials as grave goods. They are generally made of a peculiarly gritty clay that leaves an unpolished matte surface. Over this is painted a white slip, decorated with black or dark brown designs. 

Excellent condition. Intact. Minor age commensurate surface abrasions and some pitting. Fading to pigmentation in some areas. Size approx. 21,5cm x 15,2cm x 7,0cm. 

Provenance: private collection from Sweden.

For a similar examples see:

Figurine, The British Museum, Accession Number: Am1939,10.3 (

Figurine of Abstract Figure with Arms Held Outwards, The Art Institute Of Chicago, Accession Number:1976.632 (

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