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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Zoomorphic Vessels : Terracotta Polychrome Animal Effigy Bowl
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Terracotta Polychrome Animal Effigy Bowl - PF.3858
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 1100 AD to 1550 AD
Dimensions: 7.75" (19.7cm) high x 11" (27.9cm) depth
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Animals were a popular subject in Ancient Costa Rican art, particularly the jaguar whose strength and cunning was greatly admired. To associate oneself with this magnificent animal was a prerogative of powerful warriors and chiefs, a privilege, which may have extended to the finer art objects purchased by the wealthy classes. The slim, slightly fluted bowl rests delicately on a pedestal attached to the jaguar's back. His tail curves upwards to touch the bowl's side, while the head lifts proudly as if aware of supporting something precious. The short, strong legs extend slightly forwards giving greater stability to the entire object, and also give the impression of suspended action as if the jaguar is about to move. Over the entire body the ornamentation is quite elaborate ranging from realistic detail, such as spots on the head and legs, to the more ritualistic devices such as the large red circle on the chest and zig-zags on the sides and legs. With his grinning mouth, large teeth and staring eyes this beast is certainly lord of the jungle, but he is also very appealing and invites us to touch his glistening coat. The artist's joy of creating something unique is very apparent in this bowl, which gives off a warmth that is immediately felt. - (PF.3858)


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