Stirrup Vessel with Monkeys in Modeled Relief (Primary Title)
Stirrup Vessel with Monkeys Modeled in Relief (Alternate Title)

Unknown (Artist)

AD 200–500
terracotta with brown slip
South America,Peru,North Coast,Andean
Overall: 8 × 5 in. (20.32 × 12.7 cm)
Monkeys, which are native to the Amazon region of South America, were considered exotic and foreign to the Moche people of the desert coastal region. The naturalistic depiction seen here and the archaeological remains of monkeys in the Moche region suggest the artist’s familiarity with the animals. Monkeys were kept as pets and served ritual functions because of their foreign Amazonian origins and their resemblance to humans. The monkeys depicted on this vessel have protruding tongues, an artistic convention used to show the animal’s subjugation or capture. The restraints around their waists and wrists may indicate that these monkeys were pets. Because the people of the Moche region considered primates closely related to humans, eating monkeys was taboo.
Early Intermediate
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sandford G. Etherington
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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