Feline Bottle, Ceramic, Chimú

Feline Bottle

12th–15th century
Overall: 11 1/8 in. (28.26 cm)
Other: 10 1/8 in. (25.72 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cummings, 1964
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 357
As early as the beginning of the second millennium B.C., the peoples in northern Peru produced ceramics of remarkable technical refinement, aesthetic appeal, and iconographic complexity. By the time this vessel was made—almost 3,000 years later—ceramic production emphasized efficiency and repetition rather than artistic and technological excellence. Although Chimú potters used the forms, imagery, and techniques employed by their predecessors, their wares appear mass-produced in comparison. Some vessels, even though made in molds, as is the present example, are well modeled with perfectly finished surfaces. Their quality implies a considerable investment of time and skill. Most Chimú examples are noted for the presence of a lug at the junction of the spout and stirrup. Here, there is a small monkey; others have a bird or a simple lug. This bottle depicts a feline lying atop a rectangular chamber.
Bruno J. Wassermann-San Blas Collection, Buenos Aires, Argentina, acquired by 1938, until 1954; Nathan Cummings, Chicago, 1954–1964

Wassermann-San Blás, Bruno John. Céramicas del antiguo Perú de la colección Wassermann-San Blás. Buenos Aires: Bruno John Wassermann-San Blás, 1938, no. 190, p. 108.

Sawyer, Alan Reed. The Nathan Cummings Collection of Ancient Peruvian Art (Formerly Wasserman-San Blas Collection). Chicago, 1954, p. 31.

Sawyer, Alan Reed. Ancient Peruvian Ceramics: The Nathan Cummings Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1966, no. 85, p. 61.