Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Art History

First Advisor

James D Farmer


This dissertation is a formal and iconographic study of a distinctive engraved motif found on Cupisnique style vessels that were excavated in what is now northern Peru. The Cupisnique style was developed approximately between 1200 – 200 B.C.E., and was mainly centered in the Jequetepeque and the Chicama Valleys in the northern coastal region of Peru. This study includes an analysis of two ceramic vessels in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (henceforth VMFA). The purpose of this dissertation is to document and analyze the Cupisnique engraved head motifs and to argue that these motifs reflect the influence of early Formative Ecuador ceramics on the later coastal Cupisnique as well as on the highland Chavín style. In addition to the two VMFA vessels, this study documents and analyzes an additional one hundred seventy seven (177) Cupisnique ceramics vessels that were also engraved with head motifs. These belong to various museums and private collections in South and North America. This study also presents a catalog of all documented head motifs, including those captured on photographs and in original drawings. The Cupisnique head motifs are classified by individual elements, and iconographies of Cupisnique head motifs are presented based on the origin and influence of the motifs.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2010