Moche Stirrup Spout Vessel depicting Aipaec-Decapitator or Wrinkle Face,
Middle Mochica, ca. A.D. 200 - 500,
Earthenware with cream and reddish-brown slip with red painted highlights
height 11 1/2in (29.2cm)
Jacques Sarlie Collection, New York, ca. 1968
Private Collection, New York
'One Moche god is commonly shown in a frontal position, holding a severed head in one hand and either a crescent-bladed knife or a distinctive chisel-like instrument in the other. The figure appears to be a version of Aipaec (creator), because whether depicted in full figure or as a head only, he sports distinctive double ear spools. The chisel is sometimes shown with an elaborate top, so that it appears to have served also as a scepter. It might have been used to puncture the jugular veins of sacrificial victims in order to draw blood. The deity has been called the Decapitator God when he holds the crescent knife, and with the chisel, he is known as the Degollador, or Throat Cutter - although Peruvianists sometimes use the terms causally and interchangeably.
Still another fanged, anthropomorphic deity is known as "Wrinkle Face". His main characteristics are his wrinkled face, usually depicted in paintings by lines on his cheeks, and a belt with snake heads at the ends...
...Many students of Moche iconography distinguish between Aipaec-Decapitator and Wrinkle Face as two or even three separate deities. The matter is complex, though, because some versions of Wrinkle Face show him with double ear spools or the snake-headed belt, features that also identify Aipaec-Decapitator. Such portrayals seem to be more common in relatively early Moche pottery.' (Quilter, 2010: pp. 61-2).
In the work presented here, the god is depicted on top of the vessel, in a crouching position looking up to the viewer and wearing regalia including snakes, large eyes, fanged mouth, holding his decapitation instrument in right hand; a procession of warriors decorates the frieze around the surface below.