I just love this pair of Shipibo pottery bowls, each with a Janus-like pair of faces, one on either side. Very thin-walled, made of earthenware shaped by coil construction, and hand-painted with wonderful all-over maze-like geometric patterns, these are quintessential examples of pottery made by the women of the Shipibo, an Indigenous people who live along the Ucayali River in the Amazon rainforest in Peru.
Apparently, the patterns reference the Shipibo belief that "in mythic times geometric designs covered everything—the sky, trees, people, animals, et cetera—but due to the misdeeds of failed protohumans... the geometric lineaments ruptured." As such, it is understood that "all of the designs are pre-existent; the artist has only to grasp and fix them in her mind lay them over the design field, and cut where they match that field, letting the rest of the design fade back into invisibility. The visible design remains as a window into the vast reticulate intricacy of the universe."*
While these ceramics were traditionally made for use in the home, many of these pots are made for a tourist market, as were these; both have their original stickers on the botttom, reading "Exportadores del Inca S.A. Handmade in Peru." I believe they date from the mid-20th Century. The bowls are wonderful individually, but I think they are especially great stacked, which they do very well!
The larger of the bowls measures 6 1/4" wide x 3 1/8" tall with an opening 4" in diameter. The smaller measures 4 1/2" wide x 2 1/2" tall, with an opening of 3" in diameter. There is some wear to the exterior paint and a couple of little chips in the larger around the edge of the lip, all as documented--one along the exterior of one face, the other on the interior. These are minor and I think add to their charm and character!
*Peter Roe, University of Delaware; and Bahuan Mëtsa (Manuel Rengifo Barbaran, Shipibo), knowledge keeper, San Francisco de Yarinacocha