1000 – 1450 A.D.

  • Height : 199 cm
  • Width : 19 cm
  • Depth : 6 cm


Ceremonial oar decorated in its upper part with a round knob surmounted by a pelican.

The oar is divided into three distinct parts: the blade, the shaft and the knob. The blade is quite wide, with a rectangular shape; the lower extremity is rounded, similar to a shovel. The shaft is long, decorated on its entire length with carved designs representing ten identical birds, most likely pelicans, placed one behind the other in single-file. Each of them holds in its beak a stylized fish, evoked by a serrated geometric shape, and seems to merely run up the shaft towards the top of the oar. At last, the carefully sculpted round knob is surmounted by a beautiful and majestic pelican, similar to the ones that ornament the shaft and which also holds a stylized fish in its beak.

This kind of ceremonial oar is absolutely peculiar to the Ica-Chincha culture, which developed on the south coast of Peru, around the valleys of Ica and Chincha, during the late intermediate period, between 900 and 1450 A.D. This society, built around a central administration, mainly relied on trade and barter and maintained exchange relations with many other Peruvian regions, as well as with much further Andean areas. The importance of navigation and fishing in the daily life of Ica-Chincha people led them to create ceremonial oars with elaborate decorations and an advanced aesthetic look, which have no equivalent amongst any other Peruvian culture. These unique objects, with their fineness and quality of execution, were only used in religious circumstances, during ritual ceremonies.

ProvenanceAncient Italian collection since 1965.

Bibliographic referencesS. PURINI, A. EMMERICH,La Sculpture en bois dans l’Ancien Pérou, Somogy éditions d’art, Paris, 2006, pp. 19, 30, 158-159.