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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Anthropomorphic Effigy Vessel
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Anthropomorphic Effigy Vessel - PF.4567
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 300 BC to 300 AD
Dimensions: 16.25" (41.3cm) high
Catalogue: V24
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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One of the most exciting and rewarding results of studying ancient art is the discovery of an object that has no immediate counterpart in modem society. When such objects are encountered they force us to draw upon our own stockpile of collected images to help us explain and de-mystify something, which initially, seems intimidating. To understand this wonderful vessel, we can start with two basic premises; Firstly, it was designed for a specific purpose; and that it shows someone who is either wealthy or of noble birth. The second postulation is demonstrated by the beautiful scarification or tattooing, plus the rather large ear spools both are signs of wealth. The first premise can be delineated in stages. The bloated belly is one symptom of a liver disease, which swells the abdomen and is very painful. The man's left hand is lifted over the general location of the afflicted organ. In addition, the protuberance on the right shoulder is probably a tumor of some sort. It is conceivable this vessel was used by a Shaman to cure liver or other diseases, acting as a sympathetic ritual container to hold a curative liquid. The white mouth may symbolize the illness itself emerging from the body as proof of the effectiveness of the cure. Or it may be a mushroom of the poisonous variety, which needed to be expelled from the body. This fabulous vessel has its own unique energy; at once inexplicable and yet surprisingly friendly, as if it is still radiating a healing power. - (PF.4567)


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