Male Portrait Pot


National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

This vessel is in the likeness of a human head, almost half of the natural size of an actual head. Hardly betraying any signs of being a vessel, the artefact, vividly conceived and so close to reality, looks like a replica of a human head. The face has painted pattern in the center. The naturalistic representations of human faces are unique to the Moche culture of Peru. They are thought to represent secular and religious dignitaries. Large numbers of portrait heads have been found in the graves. Most probably these were certain highly regarded personalities, whose heads were thought to possess beneficial powers and prompted the ancient Peruvians to place them in graves. These ceramic heads were cast in moulds and more or less show exactly the same features. The portrait head show their face painted. It is curious that all these heads were intended as drinking vessels for the living and the dead. Most of portrait heads are with stirrup spout, which occasionally spoils the artistic effect but the one at National Museum collection doesn’t have a spout and is indeed a fine example of portrait head.


  • Title: Male Portrait Pot
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date: 200/700
  • Location: Mochica, Peru
  • Physical Dimensions: h 16.5cm x 16cm
  • Accession Number: 67.246

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