Lot 8
  • 8

Large Sicán Gold Head Beaker ca. A.D. 900-1100

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • gold
  • Height: 9 5/8 in (24.5 cm)
formed with the classic Sicán lord’s face in repoussé, with crossed fangs, broad nose, and comma-shaped eyes, wearing a cap secured with rounded headband, the coiffure hanging in thick tapering plaits at the back and weighted by a horizontal band trimmed with small discs, secured overall at the back with a chevron band centering a large medallion. 


John Wise
Acquired from the above by the present owner's family in 1966

Catalogue Note

The large gold beakers featuring the Sicán deity, or lord, are one of the most iconic objects of the period. Often referred to as Naymlap, this is the principal deity considered to be the mythical founder of the dynasty. The crossed fanged mouth, large comma-shaped eyes and detailed coiffure, are key features seen on the beakers, tumis and textiles of the period.

The beakers were made with skillful knowledge of hammering and annealing large sheets of metal, requiring huge ingots to be beaten and formed into the beaker shape with repeated cooling in water and reheating. The powerful image of the Sicán lord’s facial details were worked from the interior outward, and finer details chased for further refinement. The back of each head shows the style of coiffure which was of great importance in ancient Peru. Here the thick strands are weighted and decorated with individual discs. See Jones (1985: cats. nos. 69 and 71) for the head beakers in the Jan Mitchell Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.