Lot 11
  • 11

Sicán Gold Beaker with Shells ca. A.D. 900-1100

25,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • gold
  • Height: 6 in (15.2 cm)
decorated in repoussé with a frieze of upright spears, flanked by bands of flying avians, and surmounted by deeply repoussé spondylus shells encircling the rim.


John Wise
Acquired from the above by the present owner's family in 1971


The mate to this beaker was exhibited and published in the 1964 New York World’d Fair, World of Ancient Gold; it is very likely this beaker accompanied it in the exhibition. 

Catalogue Note

The red and purple spiky spondylus bivalve was an important emblem of authority long before the Sicán era. Found at depths of over 25 meters in the warm waters off Ecuador, the shells were an important trade item for the elite, serving as a valued commodity and ritual offering to ensure rain for the crops of the coastal deserts. See Jones (1985:224), for the Sicán gold beaker in the Jan Mitchell Collection, of a figure holding a spondylus shell.