Brian Stephenson Fine Art

South American Artifacts

Tiwanaku Figurine

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Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) feline figurine or Chachapuma


Item-Description:Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) feline figurine or Chachapuma
Medium:Volcanic stone
Origin:Lake Titicaca - Tiwanaku
Dimensions:Height 10.7 cm, Width 4.0 cm, Depth 4.6 cm
Age:7 to 10th century or later?
Provenance:Field collected Tiwanaku, 1974
Condition:Excellent, uncleaned since excavation
Notes:The Tiwanaku, Pre-Columbian civilisation ranged from as early as A.D. 110 to around A.D. 1000. At its peak (approximately A.D. 700) it supported over 400,000 people farming potatoes, corn and quinoa and covered most of the Lake Titicaca basin and present day Bolivia. It declined rapidly after A.D. 1000, probably due to climatic change (drought).

The remains of the civilisation constitute a complex of major temples (notably Akapana, Pumapunku and Kalasasaya) with a supporting infrastructure. The temples themselves are marked by numerous large stone monolithic guardian figures of human form, carved in sandstone or local volcanic stone, ranging from 2 to 4 meters in height and each holding in its left hand, a goblet for drinking fermented corn beer or chichi and in its other hand, a tablet for ingesting psychoactive snuff or vilca. Other important stone carvings were the Chachapumas, feline figures (modelled after the cougar or puma) set on either side of temple entrance doors. The site has been heavily looted since the 1900ís and large collections of figures, figurines, ceramics and pottery exist in Western museums.

This example is a typical and very well carved Chachapuma figurine, field collected near the Pumapunku Temple in 1974, and supposedly unearthed in nearby excavations. Its excellent state of preservation, however, suggests that it might be an early 20th century replica, daubed in mud to suggest long term burial. It is therefore priced to reflect this possibility.

Price: £210