Sicán Gold Beaker with Frogs Circa AD 900 - 1100
Property of an American Private Collector
Sicán Gold Beaker with Frogs
Circa AD 900 - 1100
Height: 5 1/2 in (14 cm)
The gently flaring walls are deeply repoussé with two rows of frogs, comprising four on the lower row and five above. Each frog has legs outstretched in a lively manner and the spines are marked by rows of circles; their eyes are surmounted by concentric folds.
The hammered beakers of the Sicán era are perhaps the most iconic gold objects of this dynamic political and cultural period. The imagery that reinforced water and fertility to ensure agricultural success was of the utmost importance, and frogs were an apt and frequently used creature decorating gold and textiles. Andean toads and frogs include the Bufo spinulosus and the large Bufo marinus, both of which have distinctive knobby skin as shown here. Their serums were used for hallucinogenic ceremonies as well as acting as potent tools to stun their prey.
This beaker was part of the 1964 World's Fair exhibition pavillions The World of Ancient Gold.