This vessel, which is larger than usual, comes from the north-western part of Peru, and is circa 1500 years old. It shows a shaman who is depicted partly human and partly animal, during the gradual transformation of the shaman into a fox.
Moche shamans often consumed the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus, trying to reach the spiritual world. They believed that during this process they would transform into animal spirit helpers such as the fox. On this vessel the use of a hallucinogen is also illustrated by the wide open eyes and large pupils.
Foxes are often depicted in Moche art as warriors, possibly because of their behaviour in nature, where they hunt and capture small prey; similarly warriors would fight and capture prisoners. Foxes were also associated with the world of the dead, as they are nocturnal animals and live in underground burrows. As a result, the fox was an important deity in the Moche pantheon.