Seated shaman holding spondylus
MOCHICA – Peru
200 – 450 A.D.
Height : 5.3 cm – Width : 3.8 cm - Depth : 3.7 cm
Copper with a green patina
Copper anthropomorphic sculpture representing a seated shaman with crossed legs.
The arms are brought in towards the chest. The hands are set close and hold spondylus, shells used during rituals. The shaman is dressed with a loincloth and carries a small bindle in his back, kept by a knot around his neck.
The face is marked by two deep sinusoidal folds. The mouth is fine. The salient nose is hooked and the nostrils are pierced with a transversal hole. The large almond-shaped eyes are hemmed. The mid-long hair is cut short at front and topped with a headband.
This shaman, who seems to commune with himself to perform a ritual, presents a very interesting iconographic element: the spondylus that he holds into his hands. Indeed, coming from the warm coastal waters, these shells covered with reddish spikes were associated with sea, rain and fertility and were used as money or offering to Pachamama, the Mother-Earth goddess.
The Mochica culture has developed along the North coast of Peru, around the Moche and Chicama valleys, between 100 and 800 A.D. This civilization is a society characterized by a strong hierarchy, dominated by an aristocracy controlling the political, military and religious powers. From an artistic point of view, it is mostly renowned for its bright colored ceramics, but also for its high level of metallurgical technology.