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  • Place of origin:

    Peru (made)

  • Date:

    100 BC to 600 AD (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware, painted with slip and burnished

  • Credit Line:

    Given by The Dowager Lady Steel-Maitland

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 35, shelf 3

Physical description

Globular vessel of red earthenware with two linked spouts at the top. The black and cream ground is painted on opposite sides with two polychrome hummingbirds in slips of cream, red and brown with black outlines.

Place of Origin

Peru (made)


100 BC to 600 AD (made)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware, painted with slip and burnished


Height: 12 cm, Diameter: 10.2 cm

Object history note

According to a letter in the RF, dated 7/9/41 "Brought back by the late Rt.Hon. Sir Arthur Steel Maitland from La Paz in 1921" (Bolivia)

Historical significance: The Nasca style was subject to changes over seven centuries. Many examples from the Early phase include quite simple compositions of stylised subjects from the natural world, very important to their agrarian and fishing culture. Designs include a wide range of local animals and birds naturalistic enough to identify the species, such as the hummingbirds on this bottle.

The double spout and bridge demonstrated here is one of the most distinctive and complicated Nasca vessel forms. On one level it had a very practical function as the second opening allowed for air to escape so liquid poured smoothly.

Historical context note

The Nasca people lived in Southern Peru in the desert valleys leading to the coast, and pottery produced by the Nasca Culture from ca.100 BC to 600 AD is some of the most accomplished of pre-columbian civilizations. Nasca pots were formed by coiling, drawing and shaping by direct modelling rather than the use of moulds. The decoration is characterised by skilled polychrome slip painting. Blocks of coloured slips were painted using brushes made from Llama or Alpaca fur and then the distinctive black outlines of the image were added on top. The surface was carefully burnished before firing to produce a smooth and shiny surface.

Descriptive line

Earthenware vessel painted with two humming birds, Peru, early Nasca style, 100 BC to 600 AD

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Christopher Donnan ,Ceramics of Ancient Peru Fowler Museum of Cultural History, University of California, LA 1992
Proulx, Donald A., A sourcebook of Nasca Ceramic Iconography, University of Iowa Press, 2006

Production Note

South Coast of Peru


Earthenware; Slip



Subjects depicted



Ceramics; Earthenware


Ceramics Collection

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