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Bell with One Trophy Head on Each Side
Superb line quality stretched over the slightly uneven surface combines with the object's shape to transform this bell into a trophy head itself. The facial outline of the trophy head rendering echoes the profile of the bell, and the fact that their orientations are revered creates dynamic visual tension between them. The vacant, staring face on a slightly asymmetrical head, with protruding curls of hair and liens of blood, all accentuate this effect.
Only the Santa María culture produced triangular bells, and about a dozen examples are known. Archaeological opinion suggests the bells were mounted on staffs, mouths facing up, and beaten on their sides with wooden implements. Pronounced wear patterns covering the lower sides of all the bells reinforce that interpretation.
The bell was cast in four stages using the lost-wax technique. A reinforcing inner rim around the mouth of the bell was made first, and each side was separately cast onto it. Finally, the end with two holes for attachment was cast into place.
from O'Grady, Myth & Melancholy: The Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. O'Grady Collection of Southern Cone Art (Notre Dame, 2014)