I *dare* y'all to identify this guy...

mahatmacat1January 15, 2010

This one's a keeper no matter what, as it reminds us all of an actual shrunken head we saw recently in a museum...but it's *carved* from pottery.

It looked at first to be a pipe or an incense burner or *something*, but has only one hole (the thing at the top).

What the heck is this?! On the bottom is an old typewritten label saying "Yurito". Can't get any useful leads from that either.

Here is a link that might be useful: Little Yurito, safe at last :)

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lindac

I don't know how big it is, but it looks like a water jug to me....is it stone ware? or a softer pottery? is tehre a glaze of any sort on it?
It looks Peruvian....not sure why I say that.
This is reminiscent....
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://clendening.kumc.edu/dc/rm/a_03p.jpg&imgrefurl=http://clendening.kumc.edu/dc/rm/major_ancient.htm&usg=__uGLexffgBKwC45ZOT8W8REnYSPM=&h=432&w=345&sz=40&hl=en&start=3&tbnid=-RQYjys_qlhh_M:&tbnh=126&tbnw=101&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dperuvian%2Bpottery%2Bwater%2Bjugs%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG

However there is a whole tradition of making face jugs in the US...mostly southern...
And I'll bet Yurito is the maker's name....which sounds japanese to me.
Just off the top of the head thoughts.
Linda c

Here is a link that might be useful: Face jugs

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 3:46PM
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mahatmacat1

Yikes, my fault: I should have said that he's 2-3/4" to the top of the throat (where the hole is). Interesting connection, though--not sure I'd want to have water poured from a disease-depicting jug...

I'd thought of face jugs, but it's WAY too small! And yes re Yurito being Japanese--the only mention I can find is as a member of a couple in some manga or anime thing...literally nothing else.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 4:01PM
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justlinda

Maybe a whistle of sorts ~ sort of like when you blow into a glass bottle!?!?!?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 4:18PM
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mahatmacat1

Thanks for your guess! But I'm thinkin' no, justlinda...it doesn't make any noise when I blow near it (not touching it, though).

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 4:38PM
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lindac

You mean the whole thing is under 3 inches tall??
Gotta re-think this....trying to "think outside the box"....

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 4:54PM
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mahatmacat1

if it helps, the label (YURITO) looks like some kind of anthropological artifact label, typed in all caps and glued on back in the mid-century, iykwim.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 6:42PM
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sunnyca_gw

Saw some odd stuff at shop across from the world famous "Farmer's Market" in L.A.yrs ago. The man had lot of Japanese/Chinese stuff most having something to do with smoking or netsukes(1-2 in. object that was of wood, ivory, bone,ceramic, nutshells, or metal and hangs from the sash of the man's garment. Very expensive if hand carved etc. But I think this is related but not a netsuke. Maybe try Japanese smoking equipment?? I could have stayed in shop all day as he had all kinds of strange small items, most very expensive. This could be a late copy of something old.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 12:26AM
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lora_in

Hi Flyleft,
Yurito is a japanese name. From the tiny size I bet it held something precious or expensive, spirits/medicine or medicinal spirits.(if it was ment to hold anything at all)

One possibility could be a "spirit jar". The Japanese used them to hold food & drink offerings for their ancestors ie grave goods. The rich had beautiful, elaborate jars like the link below. Common people would have had something much more simple.

With the type of tag on the back it just might be a piece from an archeological dig . You might want to contact a museum or 2 to check it out.

(hope I didn't give you the willies about grave goods) Lora

Here is a link that might be useful: Spirit Jar

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 12:39AM
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calliope

Yes, Yurito is a Japanese name, but if you Google it, you'll also find it used in names from South America. That surprised me. I also am with Linda on this one. It doesn't 'look' Japanese though it made have been made there. It does strike me as looking South American, too. Interesting piece. I have never seen anything quite like it.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 11:21AM
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zofie

I agree with the others, it does not look Japanese. Is it possible that "Yurito" is simply the name of the individual that donated the artifact, or the original owner? Since the name is not inscribed on the artifact itself, but on a label that's been glued to the item?

It does look Indian, Incan, Peruvian, etc...
Also, doesn't it look like some type of burial item? The face on it looks like it depicts someone that has died (eyes closed, wrapping around the head, etc). Could it be some type of cremation urn?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 12:11PM
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mahatmacat1

Thank you all for all the input! I agree my first thought was definitely South American of some kind, which is why the name confused me. It would be odd, though, to have a typewritten label be the name of the owner--it really looks like some kind of ID...but what do I know.

I googled "peru spout" and came up with the closest thing so far, although I haven't yet found an example quite as small as mine. See below for some examples of a "stirrup spout vessel"; there are a few that are oriented in the same direction as mine, but they're sure burnished like mine is on the back (indication of a certain kind of firing--I'm blanking but I found it on another website). If this *is* a stirrup spout vessel, I wonder why mine is so small, and what "YURITO" refers to.

Here is a link that might be useful: what do you all think?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 12:37PM
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lindac

Could it be Australian Aborigine? The features look sort of like that.....and are you sure it's pottery and not some sort of wood or nut?
Linda c

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 12:41PM
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lindac

Never mind....aborigines have beards...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 1:09PM
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Ideefixe

I think it looks like Mochica pottery, but you'd have to get an expert to tell you if it's authentic or a repro.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mochica pottery Google Images

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 1:30PM
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lora_in

Alrighty, this took some digging but take a look at the link below. A very rough translation from page 387-388 names a yurito as a ceremonial vessel to drink fermented corn beverages from. The style is not the same as your piece but at least it now has a roughly defined use.

I think your best bet is to contact a museum where a trained eye can look at it. Lora

Here is a link that might be useful: University of Buenos Aires

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 2:56PM
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zofie

Great find Lora!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 4:32PM
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sweeby

Googling 'Portrait Vessel' gets you some pretty decent hits...

Where do you find this stuff Fly?!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 5:50PM
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lindac

She has a special Shoppe she frequents and a picker that has a good eye and points her to the good stuff....

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 6:23PM
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mahatmacat1

Lora you RULE!!! How in heck did you find it?! Please share your amazing research process if you would. That is just so thrilling :) I'll contact someone appropriate on Monday, for sure.

and idee, um...I'm quite relieved I found a *portrait* mochica yurito, vs. some of those other ones on the link :) The old glued-on typed label sure does suggest to me an artifact, not a repro, but it needs to be verified.

sweeby, yes, those do help too, thanks. I swear it was just on the tchotchke shelf at My Favorite Boutique (see the thread on HD conversations :)), and linda, I can say that this find was *mine*, mine alone, hahahah! :)

You all have seriously been of help on this guy. I will come back and share the feedback I get. There is a charity benefit appraisal booth (by professional appraisers) at a antiques fair this weekend, but now that we've narrowed this little guy down, I think this thing needs more specifically trained eyes, not just someone who knows Heisey glass, etc. Yurito (that's my name for him now :)) will just sit next to my monitor, looking back at me, until Monday.

This is so cool :)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 7:49PM
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mahatmacat1

And he was $1.99.

OH, and the Spanish link will be DD's homework assignment in Spanish this weekend :)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 7:51PM
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karinl

Reminded me of this item listing from Lee Valley (link below). Sorry to be late with adding this, but I've been busy (sigh) battling bed bugs.

Nice find, and great sleuthing, people.

KarinL

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of Mochica items

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 10:09PM
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lora_in

Hi Flyleft,
Simple process of elimination :o

Couldn't find Yurito as a place name and it wouldn't translate from Japanese,Chinese,Spanish or Mexican Spanish. Also couldn't find a definition. That ment it was probably an archaic term, obscure language or technical term.
So, you look in archaic,obscure technical tomes : )
It also helps that I got to spend a lovely summer working on a dig with IU. Learned great insights into odd bits of research.

I hope your daughter doesn't have to translate the whole thing? I mean, it would be of great service but man oh man, it's a dry read : ) My Spanglish isin't good enough to get the details but there seems to be some reference to the jars with side/bottom spouts having a human anatomical correlation & the section after pg 388 deals with the large urns that the wrapped bodies were placed in.

I really need to shop where you do, not very much in the way of real goodies around here. Lora

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 11:03PM
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mahatmacat1

Ah, cool--thanks. I very very much appreciate your effort on it--I'll post as soon as I have any further information. I do think this guy looks like a dead shrunken head, and given their culture of violence, as I read, I wouldn't put it past them to use a specifically deceased person as an image. Does "IU" mean "Indiana University"? (just guessing from "in" in your screen name)

And nah, she won't have to translate it all -- we'll just scrape off what we can understand-she's still 1st year :)

And re shopping, if you ever make it out Portland, OR way, I'll be glad to show you around to all our finest "boutiques" :)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 12:05AM
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mahatmacat1

Just an update: I sent pics to a museum at the U of Penn (one of my alma maters :)) and I hope they reply. If I don't hear back in about a week, I'll write back.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:28AM
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sweeby

Cool! Please keep us posted --

One other thought. If you're near some museums and are open to the idea, you might bring it to them for authentification as a prospective donation. (Only if you're open to donating of course.) Why donate? Well, for one thing, so more people could enjoy this fabulous piece. For another reason -- you'll get one heck of a tax deduction!

Back in the 1940's my grandmother bought a little silver baby cup at a local garage sale. (She collected silver baby cups to use for serving punch at parties and had amassed quite a collection.) Anyway - something about this piece caught her eye, so she did some research. Turns out it had been made by Paul Revere's shop around the time of the Revolutionary War. Since she lived near Boston, she brought the piece to a museum there and donated it. (And with the tax savings, she bought herself a mink coat!)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 11:20AM
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Ideefixe

I don't think the Calchaqui were known for a "culture of violence".

The dig that's referenced in the book is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

And don't click on this if you're squeamish, but real (or faked) shrunken heads don't look anything like Yurito.

http://www.shrunkenheadcookbook.com/shrunken-heads-gallery.htm

Here is a link that might be useful: Valle Calcahqui

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:41PM
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mahatmacat1

Wow, now that's a great story...the Penn museum just seemed right to try since I did graduate work there, but it is kinda far away from me now -- I've had no acknowledgement as yet -- I wasn't sure to whom to send it anyway...maybe I'll try to find somewhere closer to home, although the anthro museum I know of around here focuses on PNW Native history.

I do wonder if it's a modern rendition, though, since it seems more carved and hewn rather than shaped, as most of the other examples I've seen are. But who knows. Whatever it is, it's interesting.

No mink, but maybe I'd buy myself a real womb chair (ref. the Eames thread on the HD forum) :) Or maybe a gallon of gas. Depends on the outcome :)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 1:04PM
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mahatmacat1

Update: Penn got back to me saying they'll talk with me by phone (nothing in writing, as it's informal) once they receive hard copies of photographs. So that will take a while, but I'll post again when I have more info. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 4:38PM
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lindac

Great!...I hope Little Yurito is a real preColumbian piece!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 5:47PM
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mahatmacat1

Thanks, idee...I'll have to dig up (no pun intended) the sources that described the Moche culture.

and I swear on what I hold holy that we saw a *real* shrunken head in a museum (a rather quaint one, of the May co. family members--blanking on his name-was it Wilbur?) and this thing instantly reminded me of it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 5:59PM
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mahatmacat1

Yes, it was Wilbur D. May Museum, in the same park in Reno where DD had her XC nationals in December. there's a shrunken head there. They don't look exactly alike, but there is some resemblance anyway...

Here is a link that might be useful: thar he blows...

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 6:02PM
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mahatmacat1

Update: Little Yurito's pics have evidently made it across the country, but I've been advised it may take weeks before I learn anything, since the folks with whom the person I sent them to needs to consult don't come in all the time. So I'll be patient...and I'll post when I hear anything substantive. Just thought I'd let folks know about Yurito's progress :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2010 at 3:09PM
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