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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Art of Costa Rica : Polychrome Vessel With Iguana Handle
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Polychrome Vessel With Iguana Handle - PF.4067
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 800 AD
Dimensions: 15.5" (39.4cm) high
Catalogue: V22
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta


Location: United States
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Description
When an object is as refined in detail and monumental in effect as this remarkable vessel, it is justifiably elevated to the status of sculpture. The curvilinear bowl is mounted upon a circular base segmented by vertical bands in a ribbed pattern. Panels are therefore created; inside of each is a small zoomorphic head. With their bulbous eyes and thick lips they resemble a reptile peeping from its hole. The ornamentation on the bowl is an intriguing pattern of vertical and horizontal thick black lines interlocked with L-shaped lines in red. This design adds an angular quality to the bowl's curve, encouraging the eye to roam up and down the entire vessel. The piece de resistance is of course the fantastic iguana perched confidently on the rim. Though containing some stylistic elements, he is very realistic in every aspect. His back is cleverly arched to provide a handle. The front claws grip tightly to the rim, while the back ones are slightly inside the bowl. This sophisticated detail gives the lizard an added sense of realism, as if he has just come to rest for a moment. Carefully incised markings delineate the iguana's dewlap and spiny crest. His eyes are alert, and his tongue sticks out about to flick at an insect. The overall visual effect is of an object that is beautifully balanced, expertly crafted and highly imaginative. However, there is much more here. This vessel possesses that indefinable aura of the mythical, an elegance of something special- best described as the magic of art. - (PF.4067)

 

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