Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Cylindrical bowl (with two lug-handles; sides decorated with twelve relief snakes of which two are spiralled) made of volcanic stone (basalt ?).

  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 40 centimetres
    • Height: 15 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Found apparently unnumbered in the Ethnography Department collections. This item may possibly be 1828,0614.33 "large stone basin from ruins of Temple of the Sun, Cusco". It was previously mis-identified as Am1909,0403.1 and displayed at Burlington Gardens in 'Treasures' exhibition under that number between 1989 and 1991. (AMD,10/1991). See also Am1909,0403.01<b>McEwan 2009, p.15

    Stone Ritual vessel (<i>Cocha</i>) with snake motifs. Inca, Peru, late 15th century AD </b>

    This massive circular ritual vessel or <i>cocha</i> is sculpted from a single block of the black volcanic basalt found in the vicinity of cusco. It is one of a small number of surviving vessels of this size that were probably housed in the Coricancha - the Temple of the Sun - or adjacent sacred precincts of the Inca capital. It was likely used as a receptacle for liquid offerings, perhaps simply to hold water and create a still, reflective surface regarded as an 'eye' seeing into the underworld. The tightly nested concentric coils of the snake's body mimic the whorls and eddies that allude to the dynamics of moving bodies of water. A total of ten serpent heads are symmetrically arrayed around the vessel rim, a pattern resembling the radical arrangement of the <i>ceque</i> system used by the Incas to organize space in Cusco, the imperial capital, and the land beyond, like the slices of a pie.


  • Bibliography

    • McEwan 2009 p. 15 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2003 15 Dec-2009 Jun, BM, 'Living and Dying'
    2013 11 Oct – 2014 16 Mar, Stuttgart, Linden Museum, Historic Inca
    2014 02 Mar – 02 Nov, Rosenheim, Exhibition Hall Lokschuppen, Historic Inca

  • Acquisition notes

    Acquisition details unknown.

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Am1828,0614.33 (possible original Register no.)


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Object reference number: ESA36389

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