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Inca Aryballos

Room 4, Vitrine 42

Peruvian Southern Highlands
Imperial Epoch (1300 AD – 1532 AD)
ML013787, ML018893, ML040384

One of the typical forms of the pottery of the Inca imperial phase was the urpu, also known as an aryballo because of its similarity to Greek vessels. Huge aryballos were produced. They were used to make, store and transport chicha, the ritual drink made from fermented corn, and other edible products which were shared during the festivals of redistribution organized by the Inca. The base of the aryballo ended in a point so that it could be inserted in the ground.

The other typical Inca pottery form was the kero, or ceremonial cup. This form was inherited from the art of the Tiahuanaco culture. The keros were usually made from carved wood and decorated with incisions. These ceremonial drinking vessels continued to be made during the colonial period and they were decorated with colorful carved and painted scenes. Keros are still made by Andean communities.