Double spout and bridge vessel with hummingbirds


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The double spout and bridge vessel is one of the oldest ceramic forms known in Nasca art. This example is decorated with several hummingbirds flying around two flowers at the base of the spouts, a motif which is characteristic of the early phases of the Nasca cultural sequence. In some areas of Peru today, hummingbirds are considered to be the intermediaries or even manifestations of the mountain gods.

The innovative techniques and aesthetic qualities of Nasca polychrome ceramics make them unique in the Andean region. They were most commonly made by coiling. Slip was then applied, the vessel fired and burnished to a characteristic glossy finish. The slip was made from different mineral pigments such as manganese (black) and iron oxide (red). This represents an innovation on previous resin painting, and helped ensure the preservation of the vivid painted motifs.

The most common shapes of Nasca polychrome ceramics are bowls, dishes, vases and vessels with one or two spouts and bridge. They are reserved for the élite and are used as grave offerings.


  • Title: Double spout and bridge vessel with hummingbirds
  • Date Created: -100/600
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 13.50cm; Diameter: 10.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted; slipped
  • Registration number: Am1913,1029.1
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Nazca
  • Period/culture: Nasca
  • Other information: Cultural rights may apply.
  • Material: pottery
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Ward, F H

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