The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

South America

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Native America



Pre-Columbian Americas
Moche culture, Peru
Ceremonial Digging Stick
A.D. 400–800
Wood, copper, resin
H. 54 in. (137.2 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 99.1

Though the lower part of this object is based on the form of an agricultural implement, the elaborate carving on the top would not have appeared on a purely utilitarian item. We are not certain of the carving's meaning, but the association of the jaguar with at least two Moche deities and, by extension, with the Moche people, suggests that the imagery may relate to the defeat of enemies by the Moche. The circular depressions on the jaguar and the platform below it probably held shell or stone inlays.