Jar with small loop handles

Early Intermediate Period (Nasca Phase 5)
A.D. 400–500

Object Place: Perú, South Coast


14.6 x 12 cm (5 3/4 x 4 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Earthenware: light orange, orange, red, cream, gray, and brown slip paint

Not On View





Small loop-handled jar with rounded base and polychrome slip decoration portraying trophy heads, one of the most common and important motifs in Nasca ceramics. Decapitation and the display of trophy heads are a pan-Andean tradition pertaining to rituals promoting agricultural fertility.

The vessel’s flaring rim is painted red, and the lower half of the jar’s body is painted light orange. The shoulder area is decorated with six renderings of a trophy head, each painted a different color (gray, cream, red, light orange, brown, red) and with alternating colors of their rectangular head wraps (red, brown, cream, orange, cream, red). Thin red or brown lines separate the heads and extend downward below each one’s chin.


On bottom: "10/C" in black.


Between the early 1940s and late 1950s, probably acquired in Peru by Bernhard Kummel (b. 1919 - d. 1980), Cambridge, MA [see note]; late 1950s, sold by Bernhard Kummel to an anonymous collection; 2001, anonymous gift to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 21, 2001)

NOTE: The Boston Globe reported ("South America's Rainy Jungle Less Dangerous than Harvard Square," November 17, 1957) on the time Dr. Kummel, a Harvard professor of geology, spent in Peru. He and his wife are pictured holding Peruvian vessels from their collection.

Credit Line

Anonymous gift