Container Depicting Warriors, Rulers, and Winged Beings with Trophy Heads

A work made of ceramic and pigment.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of ceramic and pigment.

Date:

180 B.C./A.D. 500

Artist:

Nazca
South coast, Peru

About this artwork

This monumental ceramic ceremonial drum or a storage container—its long crack was repaired in antiquity—displays scenes depicting military triumph. On the upper tier, composite supernatural creatures combine forms derived from predatory birds, felines, and fish, thereby manifesting the powers of the sky, earth, and sea. These otherworldly beings feast on human captives and trophy heads, emphasizing that the natural world is not only nurturing, but also dangerous. Nazca warriors also hold weapons and trophy heads, and wear similar masks and headdresses to those worn by the composite figures, signifying that the ultimate source of their military prowess is derived from the supernatural realm. A group of elaborately attired individuals witness the sacrifices of the prisoners captured in battle. Military expeditions and ceremonies were timed to the seasonal rhythms of the environment in order to stimulate the powers of the natural world upon which human societies depended.
— Permanent collection descriptive text

On View

Arts of the Americas, Gallery 136

Artist

Nazca

Title

Container Depicting Warriors, Rulers, and Winged Beings with Trophy Heads

Origin

Peru

Date

180 AD–500 AD

Medium

Ceramic and pigment

Dimensions

127 × 114.3 × 114.3 cm (50 × 45 × 45 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Edward and Betty Harris

Reference Number

2004.1154

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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