Detail View: The AMICA Library: Lime Container (Poporo)

AMICA ID: 
MMA_.1991.419.22
AMICA Library Year: 
2000
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Creator Nationality: 
South American; Columbian
Creator Name-CRT: 
Columbia, Cauca River Valley (?)
Title: 
Lime Container (Poporo)
View: 
Full View
Creation Date: 
5th-10th century
Creation Start Date: 
400
Creation End Date: 
999
Materials and Techniques: 
Cast gold
Classification Term: 
Metalwork-Container
Dimensions: 
H. 9 in. (22.9 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
1991.419.22
Credit Line: 
Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection, Gift of Jan Mitchell, 1991
Rights: 
Context: 

In Andean South America, there is an indigenous tradition for the ritual use of coca leaves. In Precolumbian times the chief method of using coca was to place a quid of leaves into the mouth and add a small amount of powdered lime, made from calcined seashells. Standard coca-chewing paraphernalia included a small bag for the leaves and a container and a spatula or spoon for the lime. The utensils could be quite elaborate and made of precious materials. Lime containers from Colombia, known as 'poporos,' were often cast in gold in the form of nude human figures or as flasks incorporating raised nude images on each side. Both figures and flasks exhibit great elegance of conception, manufacture, and finish. The shouldered bottle here, adorned on either side with a female figure, still contains powdered lime.

Related Image Identifier Link: 
MMA_.ao1991.419.22.R.tif