Dipper, 3rd–5th century
Ceramic; H. 10 3/4 in. (27.3 cm), Diam. 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm)
Gift of Nathan Cummings, 1964 (64.228.15)
Moche cornpoppers, or dippers, have a lenticular body and a handle attached to one side. Whereas some handles have a hornlike shape, most have a human or animal head at the extremity. The shape of these vessels was perhaps derived from similar containers made of bottle gourd. Cornpoppers are rarely found in domestic contexts. They were used as funerary offerings and probably as drinking vessels during rituals. Many cornpoppers were discovered in spacious rooms on top of the monumental platform at Huancaco, in the Virú valley. They were associated with large jars designed to store corn beer. The back of this particular vessel represents a Moche major deity with its characteristic fanged mouth, semicircular headdress, snake-head earspools, and octopus tentacles radiating from the head.