Artifacts of SOTTR: The Urpu Jar of the Incas

This os the Inca jar known as an Urpu that Lara finds in Shadow of the Tomb Raider


This is the Inca jar known as an Urpu that Lara finds in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. I took this on my PS4.

Out of the many beautiful items created by the Inca the Spaniards were primarily interested in the gold and silver they held. Textiles and ceramics held no interest on their mission to horde as much gold from the Inca world as they could with little or no interest in nonviolent interaction.

The Inca made these Urpu jars in a wide range of sizes from small to large and they served their everyday lives as well as the dead, for they contained grave goods in some cases.

Shape and Name

Their shape was round with handles and they had a tapered base. This design is reminiscent of Greek perfume jars, so archaeologists adapted the name “aryballos” as a description. However, there is no connection through culture or otherwise to the Inca and the Greeks. It is purely based on shape.


These jars were used primarily for transporting Chicha (corn beer), water and for food. Llamas can’t carry a very heavy load, so the Inca people improvised by carrying them themselves. They did this by using straps that wrapped around the Urpu, so the person could carry the heavy jars that rested upright against the spine.

If you look at the Urpu in most cases, there will be a small knob located on the neck in the form of the head of an animal artistically portrayed. Its function was to stop the strap from slipping during transport. It would be a messy business if the jars were to slip and shatter, spilling their contents everywhere. Furthermore, the Inca put two small lugs in place on the rim to allow for a cloth covering to stop spillage and spoilage. Its conical base was made in

This is a real Urpu jar from Peru INCA culture1400 – 1533 AD 


this way because the Inca would insert it into sand or softer soil to pour its contents. They believed in pouring the heavy jars instead of picking them up because they felt it would reduce spilling.


If you have been playing the game Shadow of the Tomb Raider you have noticed these fine jars throughout the game. In all areas of Paititi (Hidden City) for one example. In actual Inca life, the colors they created these fine vessels from were rather narrow in scope. You can usually find them in earth colors of red, brown and orange with black decorations on them. On occasion you can find a few with a cream or even yellow bottom.

The design was carefully thought out by the artist. They were generally done to the tone of abstemiousness. You can find them decorated in designs echoing the flora and fauna of their environment.

That’s a wrap for this article. I had planned to post another double article, however, I ran out of time. So, that article shall post next time for this section time allowing. It wil be about the Inca foot plough better known as a Chakitaqlla or Chaki Taklla. 

Stay tuned for the next update!

Explore the World!


About Emma (M.Harris) (212 Articles)
I am a student of Egyptology and Mesoamerica. I am a writer and a Tomb Raider franchise ambassador sponsored by Crystal Dynamics and sent to E3 in 2018. My site is an award-winning Official Tomb Raider site from the Crystal Dynamics official fansite program, and I have been an official site since 2015. I am happy to say that my website has appeared in the game credits for "Rise of the Tomb Raider" as well as "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" I am a huge Tomb Raider fan that has a big taste for world travel and a natural sense for exploration and languages which is reflected through the vast amount of archaeology articles and artwork throughout my website. Thank you for visiting and bookmark my site. I update several times a month. This is Emma AKA (M. Harris) signing off and exploring new news about archaeology, art, languages, legends and much more from the real world and the world of Tomb Raider and Lady Lara Croft! Explore the World!

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