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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Archive : Terracotta Human Effigy Vessel
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Terracotta Human Effigy Vessel - PF.3960
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 15" (38.1cm) high
Catalogue: V22
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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There is no doubt Costa Rican ceramics represent some of the most intriguing and stunning works of art in the world. The most fascinating objects fall into a distinctive category depicting human beings that have an otherworldly, almost supernatural quality about them. This amazing vessel is a perfect example. Instantly upon seeing this fabulous object we know it is not a simple container. Every aspect of it suggests it was made for a specific purpose. The male figure is not only incorporated into the vessel, he is the vessel; and as such, constitutes a true sculpture. The man is seen in a squatting position, looking straight ahead with a penetrating stare. His eyes are slightly crossed, his head is pushed forward, his mouth agape as if he is witnessing something extraordinary. His nakedness goes beyond having no clothes on. We can clearly see his kidneys curving around his navel, drawn with anatomical precision. It is most likely this man is shaman who practiced healing and may have had expertise in treating kidney diseases or other internal ailments. His semi- erect penis leads us to consider the vessel may have been used in fertility rites. Yet, the erection may act as a device showing virility in the physical sense, and as a power symbol in the super-normal realm. Reputable shamans were held in high esteem and would have displayed their status through tattooing as in the gorgeous designs painted on his chest, cheeks and especially forehead. Shamans were also often identified as being hunchbacked and pigeon- chested. This vessel may have been made to contain liquid potions, or dried herbs and plants used by a sorcerer/healer. The sheer authority and magnetic aura this vessel exudes is truly breathtaking. Though much of the shamanism secrets have been lost; their esoteric power still seems to be working through an object created by a brilliant ceramic sculptor. - (PF.3960)


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