Moche portrait vessels of the 3rd-5th C. are unique among Pre-Columbian ceramics for the individuals portrayed by their specific traits, carefully studied and annotated by Christopher Donnan at the University of California, Los Angeles. In Phase III and IV of the Moche florescence, there was a shift from depicting mythical and supernatural beings to the naturalistic ceramics featuring mature high-status individuals. This stirrup-spout vessel portrays the strength and youthful vitality of this well-adorned dignitary. With pursed lips, expanded nostrils and scarified cheeks, he wears a Type B head cloth secured by an additional narrow textile band of geometric and figural design. The head cloth style is a distinctive component of the Moche portrait corpus, with specific styles of head gear often connected to different social roles. The addition of the large tassel attached to his head band is a rare decorative accoutrement. For other Moche portrait head vessels with a similar tassel, see Donnan, Moche Portraits from Ancient Peru, 2004, p. 64, fig. 4.39.
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