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Lime Dipper with Hummingbird

ca. 1470-1535
Precolumbian
3 3/8 x 1 x 1 1/4 in. (8.6 x 2.5 x 3.2 cm)

Unknown, Inca
Peruvian

Object Type: Metalwork
Medium and Support: Copper, bronze and silver alloy
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Edward K. Brown
Accession Number: 1960.23
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object

These tiny lime scoops were used in the preparation of a drug called coca. Lime from powdered seashells was scooped onto a coca leaf, made into a ball and chewed. In ancient times coca was restricted for the use of the nobility. It is used today to calm the stomach, combat the effects of hunger and thirst, and relieve fatigue induced by exertion in the high Andes mountains.

A small hole in the neck of the bird allows for a thin cord to pass through, thus permitting the owner to wear this small, functional work of art.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

Provenance
Mrs. Edward K. Brown; her gift to the Gallery in 1960

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