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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Costa Rican Musical Instruments : Rattle in the Form of a Costumed Man
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Rattle in the Form of a Costumed Man - PF.2969
Origin: Atlantic Watershed, Costa Rica
Circa: 1 AD to 500 AD
Dimensions: 5.25" (13.3cm) high x 2.125" (5.4cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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This delightful rattle is made from a delicate biscuit like ceramic, only 2-3 millimeters thick, which was molded into shape, then carefully smoothed on the outer surface. Such instruments and figurines of the same ceramic group are seen primarily in El Bosque Phase contexts, but they probably continued in the La Selva phase. The costumed human being suggests use in a ritual context. The presence of such works in high-status tombs corroborates such an interpretation; they were not made to pass an idle hour or as toys for children. This figure wears a broad, flaring headdress that reaches the back of his waistline, the original of which may have been made of hide or feathers. The figure's hands are clasped at his chest, and he is holding an ocarina whistle himself. His puffy cheeks are full of air that he will blow into his instrument to play a sacred hymn in sequence to the ritual. He holds his head high and stands with his back erect for he is proud of his chosen position to play in the ritual. As he cradles his ocarina in his hand, we are granted an insight of an ancient culture and their use of instruments to enhance the sacred context of ritual, which continues on in our culture today. - (PF.2969)


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