Andean ceremonial vessels: the queros

Andean ceremonial vessels: the queros
Andean ceremonial vessels: the queros

When we talk about cultures as important as the Andean culture, any everyday object can be considered a great work of art. In this sense, we must point out that for history, small objects are a great source of information that allow us to know their customs and their way of life. On this occasion we will focus on the Queros, also known as Keros, qiros or even, Wooden Chalice, Stick Drinker or Stick Glass. Whatever their name may be, these are very simple ceremonial objects, polychrome wooden vessels used by southern Andean cultures.

The Inca culture subdued the Andean peoples and adopted some of their customs from them, so it is not strange to think that the Queros were already used by these Andean peoples before the Incas. However, it seems that the Inca production of queros began before the arrival of the Europeans, although it was precisely in the colonial era when the most spectacular queros were made; specifically, the greatest production took place between the 16th and 18th centuries.

This ceremonial vessel was used in libation rituals in which chicha, a beverage made from corn, was often drunk. In general, these objects have an inverted bell shape, with a flat base that acts as a cup foot, concave walls and a very wide mouth. Some even had handles. Refering todecoration, a clear division can be established: on the one hand, pre-Columbian queros are usually decorated with geometric shapes arranged in horizontal bands, it seems that they were made with a resinous-type paint that allowed incisions to be made. The most used tones were red and yellow.


After colonization, the queros became more complex in decoration,highlighting those that represent war scenes with well-armed warriors protected by their shields or others of a more ceremonial nature and religious. These scenes were often completed with plant decorations of hanging plants and even animals from the area.

There were also complicated vases representing animal heads such as leopards or jaguars and they were very successful. Precisely from these zoomorphic kerosene, another type of ceremonial vessel known as Pajcha was developed. It was an animal-shaped glass that had an elongated conduit through which the drink was spilled until it was poured onto the ground.

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