Arts of the Americas
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, The Americas’ First Peoples, 4000 B.C.E.–1521 C.E.
The Cupisnique people produced carved stone bowls embellished with complex mythological beings. The figure on this vessel represents a spider with two human arms and legs, and eight radiating trophy heads. It holds a knife in one hand and a decapitated head in the other. A snake emerges from a Strombus shell in the genital area.
The trophy heads allude to the figure’s supernatural powers. The spider may be associated with fertility rituals and stories of human sacrifice.
Carved steatite, pigment
1 7/8 x 6 5/8 x 6 5/8 in. (4.8 x 16.8 x 16.8 cm) (show scale)
Gift of The Roebling Society and Dick S. Ramsay Fund
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Cupisnique. Offering Vessel, 900-200 B.C.E. Carved steatite, pigment, 1 7/8 x 6 5/8 x 6 5/8 in. (4.8 x 16.8 x 16.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Roebling Society and Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 71.23. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 71.23_SL1.jpg)
overall, 71.23_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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