Double spout and bridge pottery vessel with a bird deity

Nasca culture (200 BC - AD 600)
From Peru

This globular jar depicts a fantastic bird in flight with a human face, adorned with a mouth mask and a diadem. The bird holds a human trophy head. Ritual beheading was a common practice in the Andes and scenes of decapitation can be seen painted on Nasca vessels.

Not all birds depicted in Nasca art can be identified to a particular species. Some representations are quite naturalistic, while others combine fantastic and anthropomorphic elements. Certain birds are still revered in the Andean region today. The people of the modern town of Nasca believe that the condor and other birds, such as the pelican and the heron, are manifestations of the mountain gods. To catch sight of one of these birds means that rain will fall in the mountains.

The technique and range of colours used on this large vessel mark the peak of Nasca achievements. The number of colours used by Nasca artists is larger than that used by any other culture in the Americas before European contact.

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Double spout and bridge pottery vessel with a bird deity

Pot with a bird deity from the Nasca culture in Peru

  • Pattern on other side

    Pattern on other side


More information


A.F. Aveni, Nasca: Eighth Wonder of the Wo (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

R. Stone-Miller, Art of the Andes: from Chavín (London: Thames & Hudson, 1995)

L.G. Lumbreras, The peoples and cultures of an (Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1976)

J. Reinhard, 'Interpreting the Nazca Lines' in The ancient Americas: art from (The Art Institute of Chicago, 1992), pp. 291-302

H. Silverman, Cahuachi in the ancient Nasca (University of Iowa Press, 1993)


Height: 30.000 cm
Diameter: 21.000 cm

Museum number

AOA Ethno 1931.11-23.1


Gift of Lady Dow Steel-Maitland


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