Richly adorned Scorpion Man

MOCHICA – Peru

200 – 450 A.D.

Height : 5.8 cm – Width : 5.3 cm - Depth: 5.2 cm

Copper with a green patina

Provenance

Former collection Yvon Collet since 1967

Collection Galerie Mermoz since 2006

This human-scorpion is the work of the Mochica culture (also known as Moché), which developed on the northern coast of Peru between the first and ninth centuries AD. This ethnic group is renowned for the quality of its ceramic but also for its complex and refined goldsmithing. This sophisticated piece testifies to the technical level reached by its craftsmen, whether it is the work of gold, silver or, as in this case, copper who were able to skillfully master multiple techniques (hammering, embossing, incising, folding, crimping, etc.)

This object probably belonged to a dignitary and was probably placed in his tomb as a funerary offering. The figure represented appears half human, half scorpion. This association of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic elements is frequent in Mochica art, and is interpreted as a means for the elite to represent themselves and to spread their ideology, making their representative beings endowed with supernatural powers, which gave them an obvious ascendancy over the people.

 

This hybrid being is arched on its stomach, arms and feet raised, in a vigorous and somewhat acrobatic position. The body is covered with the carapace of the scorpion. It also has eight side, pincers for hands, and a venomous stinger, which signals, by its raised position, that the figure is ready to sting.

The figure's head - which is facing us - is in contrast.  Its expression is rather fixed and almost flat, except for the strongly protruding arched nose, as is very often the case in works from Peru. Its rectangular mouth is closed and framed by two vertical grooves. The drop-shaped eyes have a large, fixed, round pupil in their center and the eyelids are "swollen". The lateral ears, fairly rectangular in shape, are adorned with circular drums