Hand-carved in black hardstone by an ancient artisan of the Pre-Columbian Inca Empire, this small container is called a CANOPA and was carved to resemble an Alpaca camelid. It was skillfully made out of a single solid stone and hand bored to create the small interior chamber in the top of the Alpaca's back. It was used to hold a votive offering substance, usually of coca leaves and meant as an offering to the goddess Mother Earth Pachamama. These canopa container offerings were left in fields and over time, became buried in the soil and "received" by Pachamama. This example is complete and with a superb polish and intact mineral deposits.
The great effort and skill to create such an object, only to abandon it to nature, was a sacrifice in of itself. The time involved to not only carve and polish the outside to its exceptional form, as well as bore out the inside, would have required artistic talents and extremely long periods of hard work in its manufacture.
According to ancient Andean myth, the goddess Pachamama fell in love with a human. Her father allowed her to live on Earth only if she brought her Alpacas along and only if mankind afforded them special care. These votive objects were created in honor of Pachamama.