Wooden cups known as keros are among the most characteristic forms in colonial Andean art, although they were widely used before the Conquest. Keros, made and used in pairs, were employed to drink chicha, or maize beer, in ritual drinking ceremonies; the use of pairs reflected the important Andean concepts of duality and reciprocity. Before the Conquest, Andean people decorated ceramic, metal, and wooden keros with geometrical designs, but during the colonial period they began to decorate cups with pictorial scenes by inlaying pigments in the wood.
The upper and lower registers of this exceptionally well-preserved kero cup present two different figural scenes, rather than the more common combination of one figural scene with bands of flowers and/or geometric motifs. Three relief bands around the middle of the cup separate the two registers, another unusual feature.
In the top register, two Inca battle three face-painted Antis or Chunchos, tropical lowland enemies wearing spotted jaguar-skin tunics and feathered headdresses. An Inca warrior wearing a checkerboard tunic leads one of the defeated Chunchos toward a castle and a seated Inca, possibly the emperor himself. The lower register contains an agricultural scene, possibly a ceremony, with two men guiding plows, each drawn by a team of two oxen. Each man is followed by a woman, one planting seeds and the other holding a pair of kero cups. The Inca and Anti battles depicted on kero cups are also associated with ritual battles fought in the Andes after the Conquest and up to the present day. These ceremonial battles, which included much drinking, took place before the harvest season and were therefore associated with agriculture and fertility. This cup makes the connection between battles and agriculture explicit by juxtaposing the two themes.
- Medium: Wood, with pigment inlay
- Place Made: Peru
- Dates: late 17th-18th century
- Dimensions: 7 7/8 x 6 1/8 in. (20.0 x 15.6 cm) (show scale)
- Collections:Arts of the Americas
- Museum Location: This item is on view in Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
- Accession Number: 42.149
- Credit Line: A. Augustus Healy Fund
- Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
- Caption: Kero Cup, late 17th-18th century. Wood, with pigment inlay, 7 7/8 x 6 1/8 in. (20.0 x 15.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 42.149. Creative Commons-BY
- Catalogue Description: Kero cup with two registers of figural scenes separated by relief bands of flowers and geometric motifs. In the top register, two Incas battle three face-painted Antis or Chunchos. They wear spotted jaguar skin tunics and headdresses with two feathers in each. One of them has already fallen and lies under a tree, while the other two hold bows and arrows. A third Inca, wearing a checkerboard tunic, leads a fourth Anti, who wears a more elaborate feather headdress than the others and is presumably their leader, toward a castle and a seated Inca, possibly the Emperor himself. A hunchbacked figure holds a parasol over him. Above and to the right, a bird holds a sling and a bag in its beak. The lower register is an agricultural scene, possibly a ceremony, with two men guiding plows that are drawn by teams of two oxen. Each man is followed by a woman: one planting seeds and the other holding a pair of kero cups. During the Colonial era, Inca themes were generally portrayed on kero cups.
- Record Completeness: Best (82%)