Really ugly Nasca pots of ancient Peru, and why they are important.

Author(s): Patrick Carmichael

Year: 2017


Polychrome ceramics of the Nasca culture (south coast of Peru, c. 100 BC - AD 600) are world renowned as one of the most colorful and artistically complex creations of the ancient Americas. Up to ten distinct colors depicting fabulous supernatural creatures adorn unique vessel forms with eggshell thin walls fixed in perfect oxidizing firings. Such masterpieces fill art books and spawn enthusiastic but fanciful speculations about Nasca society and its artisans. This paper rounds out the view of Nasca pottery production and its place in society by focusing on what is not shown in art books - the remarkably ugly, poorly made, and badly fired products of neophytes and the ungifted. Such pieces provide valuable information on the construction, painting, and firing stages of production, but also lead us to consider the individual potter as agent, the family workshop, and the potting community. The role of polychromes in Nasca society was potent. An informed understanding of their production, circulation, use, and deposition must include not only the brilliant and spectacular but also the unsightly and hideous.

Cite this Record

Really ugly Nasca pots of ancient Peru, and why they are important.. Patrick Carmichael. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430873)


Ceramics Nasca Peru

Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14378