Moche Gold Nose Ornament, 4 Anthropomorphic Figures, 200-500AD - Gold - Moche culture - Peru

Moche Gold Nose Ornament, 4 Anthropomorphic Figures, 200-500AD - Gold - Moche culture - Peru
Good condition, used with some signs of wear



Moche Culture. Lambayeque Valley.
North Coast of Peru. Circa 200-500 A.D.

Circa 200-500 A.D.

Circa 8,0 cm height.
Circa 13,5 cm width.
Circa 0,3 cm depth. (by repoussé technique)

Circa 29,0 gram.

Made of a thick plate or sheet of gold, representation by repoussé technique. Particularly this type is made of an gold alloy from a mix of gold, copper and possible low percentage of silver. By close inspection by naked eye and with a 10x to 50x microscope, we see slightly brown oxidation on top of the gilded surface. Based from this observation can be conclude that the core is made from an alloy of copper. Pre-Columbian Moche Gold items like these are genially called "Moche Gold". But are actually made by beautifully gilded-copper.

The state of preservation is excellent in its original and stable condition. No restoration or any other place over cleaned. Surface presents a beautiful ancient gold surface. With ancient brown oxidation deposits. The brown oxidation deposits can be easy cleaned but not recommend and necessary for the preservation of the original surface.

Private Collection of Mr. M. J. Vaupel, Miami, Florida USA.
Acquired in 2000 to 20 august 2013.
Formerly in the Private Collection of Mr. G. Lisset Reyes Garcia, Miami, Florida USA.
Acquired in the 1960`s - 1970`s to 2000.
Ex. Private Florida Collection.
Acquired circa 1960`s.
Private South American Collection of Mr. Razeto.
Acquired in the 1950`s to 1960`s.
Acquired before 1950.

Important sizeable Moche gold nose ornament depicting four anthropomorphic animal figures. Figures are symmetrically positioned around an oval-shaped disc, formed with bulging by repose technique. Remarkable are the mythical animal figure. The Moche nose ornament presentation set in full symmetric design, which is well known for the Moche art.

The beautiful nose ornament belonged ones to a high rank or priest of the Moche society. A chief, priest, or shaman would have worn this, portraying himself wearing a nose ornament. It is made from a thick plate or sheet of gold, representation by repoussé technique. By testing the gold surface on various places the results came out between 18K, 22K and 23K.

75.00–79.16% = 18K (acclaimed 75.00%)
91.66–95.83% = 22K (acclaimed 91.66%)
95.83–99.95% = 23K (acclaimed 95.83%)

Nose ornaments made of precious metals were worn by the elite in Peru beginning in the middle of the first millennium B.C.; they remained in fashion for over a thousand years, until about 700 A.D. Among the Moche people of the north coast, they were an essential part of royal costume. This handsome crescent is made of gold and found between Chiclayo and Trujillo, probably Cayaltí or Chepen, Lambayeque, Peru.

Moche metalworkers often combined two metals on fancy ornaments. In addition to the aesthetic appeal, joining gold and silver may have had symbolic meaning, perhaps expressing ideas of duality and complementarity. Particularly this type is made of an gold alloy from a mix of (Ag) gold, (Ag) Silver and (Cu) copper as main components.

Only King's and religious figures of high status wore such adornments. Pre-Colombian artisans excelled in metalwork; gold, silver and copper funerary masks plundered from ancient tombs give witness to their skill and taste. The quality is so high that the image could have been pressed in and hammered over leather molds. Moche was a powerful ancient state on the north coast of present-day Peru.

The Nose Ornament in Moche The Society
One of the most important pieces of jewelry was the nose ring, or narigurea. Up to 4 inches wide, they were hammered down to featherweight thinness. The ring on top of the decoration was open, so it would painlessly attach onto the external naris, the piece of skin just below the nasal vestibule, which separates the nostrils.

In the market places (tiangues), jewelry merchants (mindalaes) sold their wares after having traversed trade networks with neighboring peoples. This exchange of ideas resulted in each culture developing its own distinct design. Artists forged a great metallurgical tradition, making cast and hammered objects for elite use.

Thousands of gold objects like nose rings, ear ornaments, lip plugs, tweezers, and figurines have been found in ancient tombs. The American Museum of Natural History had a whole collection pinned to one board.

Some tribes made jewelry with wires, shaped by hammering. Tiny spheres of metal were joined by complex soldering or sweat-welding techniques to achieve delicate filigree and granulated effects. Other tribes created jewelry in simple, spherical shapes.

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Lot details
Moche Gold Nose Ornament, 4 Anthropomorphic Figures, 200-500AD
Ethnic group/ culture
Moche culture
Region/ country
Good condition, used with some signs of wear
8×13.5×0.3 cm
29 g
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