The Treasury - Fine Pre-Columbian Art


9923. EXPRESSIVE NARINO COQUERO. Columbia, Capuli Complex, 850-1500 AD. The finely rendered high status male seated on a bench with a blissful upturned countenance with a wad of coca leaves visible in his right cheek and holding a cocoa pot, an ornate sash across his otherwise nude body. Fine burnished red glaze with black designs. 4.25 x 5 x 8 inches. An exceptional example and very rare thus. An intact museum quality piece with no repair or restoration. Provenance: Acquired by the present owner from Harmer Rooke Galleries in the early 1990's.

Coca (Erythroxylum coca) leaves have been chewed by the indigenous peoples of South America since time immemorial to combat fatigue and improve mood. The Coquero, a person (invariably a man) chewing a wad of coca leaves visible in his cheek, is a motif only occasionally found in the various cultures of pre-Columbian art from the area. In modern times the psychoactive ingredients of coca leaves have been extracted and concentrated to make cocaine.