The Artifacts of SOTTR: Patolli and Llama Canopa

Click the link to view the Llama Canopa

  Date:15th–16th century
Geography: Peru
Culture: Inca
Medium: Stone
Dimensions:H. 3 x W. 3 1/2 in. (7.6 x 8.9 cm)
Classification: Stone-Containers
Credit Line: Bequest of Jane Costello Goldberg, from the Collection of Arnold I. Goldberg, 1986
Accession Number:1987.394.691
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 357
Timeline of Art History
Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas (12,054)
Artist / Maker / Culture
Inca (185)
Object Type / Material
Stone (7,658)
Geographic Location
Peru (3,460)
South America (4,471)


Votive Container (Canopa)
Date:15th–16th century
Geography:Bolivia, Lake Titicaca region
Dimensions:H x W: 2 7/16 x 3 3/4in. (6.2 x 9.5cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Jane Costello Goldberg, from the Collection of Arnold I. Goldberg, 1986
Accession Number:1987.394.690
Central and Southern Andes, 1400-1600 A.D.

llama Canopa From SOTTR

Llama Conopa from SOTTR

In the game, another wonderful actual artefact that Lara uncovers is a llama shaped canopa. The photo above is of course from the game, however, the others are actual artefacts from the Metropolitan Museum that came from Peru.


The canopa has a fascinating history. They are not only brilliantly crafted out of stone, if you look at the top of the canopa you will see a hole. The farmers believed that if they filled it with coca leaves among other things and tossed it into their fields as an offering to Pachamama, it would ensure a rich harvest. Here is why the Inca did this ritual of agriculture and why the alpaca and llama were sacred to the Inca.

Inca Alpaca Myth

Conopas’ are fairly small (30 cm) figurines carved from stone used in Inca agriculture and other rituals. The Inca people favoured the form of the alpaca and the llama.   While they are found in many styles, a very common form is that of the alpaca.  The alpaca is considered a gift from the gods, specifically the earth mother in Inca mythology known as Pachamama

Legend maintains that alpacas entered the world after Pachamama fell in love with a man.  She had permission from her father to come to our world with her alpacas. However, there was a hitch, the man she fell in love with had to give the alpacas special care. He also had to carry one small sized animal at all times. The myth says the goddess and her alpaca herd came into the world in the high lakes region of the altiplano. Everything was going exceptionally well for them until the man put the small animal down. The goddess and her alpacas ran back to her father through the lakes area. Trying to stop her was to no avail for the man only stopped a few alpacas and she was gone along with most of her herd. Inca myth says that the alpaca are waiting along the lakes of their mythical origin. It is said that if humans do not take care of them and they disappeared that will signal the end of the world.

For this reason, there is a depression on their backs that represents the lakes from which they supposedly came. A great deal of the canopas’ found pre-date Columbus. Yet one would think they have gone by the way of the dodo. Not so, for these little votives are still being made today.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next article when Okh Eshivar explores Ceramic Inca jars (Urpu) and an Inca foot plough called a Chaki Taklla

From the game SOTTR
From the game SOTTR

Remember to Explore the World!



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