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Double-Spout, Bridge-Handle Vessel

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
The central motif on this vessel’s four sides is the Horrible Bird, an anthropomorphic bird of prey that is part human and probably a combination of condor and falcon, the most powerful creatures of the sky. This mythical being has a profile bird head with a white eye and an open, white-tipped beak clutching a human head. Its wings are outstretched as if in flight, and it has a trophy head between its human legs. Additional decoration includes intertwined snakes, lizards, birds, and San Pedro cacti, plants known for their hallucinogenic properties.


El motivo central en los cuatro lados de esta vasija es el Pájaro Horrible, un ave de rapiña antropomórfica que es parte humana y probablemente una combinación de cóndor y halcón, las criaturas más poderosas del cielo. Este ser mítico tiene un perfil de cabeza de pájaro con un ojo blanco y un pico abierto de punta blanca, que sostiene una cabeza humana. Sus alas están abiertas como si volara, y tiene una cabeza trofeo entre sus piernas humanas. Decoración adicional incluye serpientes entrelazadas, lagartijas, aves y cactus San Pedro, planta conocida por sus propiedades alucinógenas.
CULTURE Nasca
MEDIUM Ceramic, pigments
  • Place Found: Palpa, Peru
  • DATES 325-440
    PERIOD Early Intermediate Period
    DIMENSIONS 9 1/4 x 7 x 6 1/4 in. (23.5 x 17.8 x 15.9 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 41.423
    CREDIT LINE Henry L. Batterman Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Nasca. Double-Spout, Bridge-Handle Vessel, 325-440. Ceramic, pigments, 9 1/4 x 7 x 6 1/4 in. (23.5 x 17.8 x 15.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Henry L. Batterman Fund, 41.423. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE side, 41.423_side4_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2012
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Double-spout, bridge-handle vessel with a rounded base and four concave walls. The exterior of the vessel is decorated with elaborate painted images of the "horrible bird" figure displayed within a white oval on each side, surrounded by painted images of plants, snakes, lizards, stars/flowers, and birds. The top of the vessel is decorated with four modeled intertwined snakes surrounded by painted ones. The "horrible bird" is an anthropomorphic raptorial bird, probably a combination of condor and hawk, that represents two of the most powerful forces of the sky (see Donald Proulx, A Sourcebook of Nasca Ceramic Iconography, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2006, pp.79-82). On this vessel it consists of a profile bird head at top with a open beak consuming a trophy head, a body surrounded by abstract feathers, and another trophy head between two human legs. Condition: good.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (92%)
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