Lot 9
  • 9

Sicán/Lambayeque Gold Atlatl ca. A.D. 800-1400

50,000 - 70,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • gold
  • Length: 23 3/4 in (60.2 cm)
of long slightly tapering form, the wood shaft covered by a gold sheath decorated in repoussé with a spiraling frieze of stylized animals, secured along one side by tiny nails, and surmounted by a copper thumb grip of a crouching  feline with gold inlay eyes and wearing a crescentic headdress.


John Wise
Acquired from the above by the present owner's family in 1968

Catalogue Note

The atlatl was an important weapon distinctive of New World technology enabling projectiles to be thrown farther than by a spear alone. Ceremonial gold sheathed examples were found in Peru and Colombia, as noted by Juan de Castellanos in the 16th c. visiting Colombia.

This atlatl is covered by a continuous gold sheet finely repoussé with repeat zoomorphic motifs forming a diagonal spiral, and carefully secured by small nails. The repetitive design of the encircling motif is an effective visual strategy frequently used in Sicán/Lambayeque art. The large-eyed creature with projecting tongue is seen on other ornaments of the period. For an atlatl of different style in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Washington, D.C., see Lothrop, Foshag and Mahler (1957: Colorplate CXXXI).