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Ceremonial Digging Stick

This ceremonial digging stick is a rare artifact as well as a powerful sculpture. It was carved from wood, a perishable material that survives for centuries only in dry climates and cave burials; the ancient repair on the shaft suggests that it was a treasured object. The Moche people in Peru used digging sticks in farming, but the carving of the powerful jaguar clawing at the man on the top of the stick suggests that this object was ceremonial, rather than utilitarian. Both Mesoamerican and Peruvian Pre-Columbian cultures associated the jaguar with the supernatural world and considered it a symbol of their power and that of their gods in defeating all opponents.

Moche culture, Peru
Ceremonial Digging Stick
400–800
Wood, copper, resin
H. 54 in. (137.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 99.1