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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Zoomorphic Vessels : Terracotta Vessel in the Form of an Armadillo
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Terracotta Vessel in the Form of an Armadillo - PF.3435
Origin: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Circa: 200 AD to 500 AD
Dimensions: 9.75" (24.8cm) high x 4.5" (11.4cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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This charming, plump armadillo stands innocently with a tender expression. The delicately sculpted armadillo seems like a harmless creature with which Ancient Costa Ricans had a special relationship. Created with rich dark color, the armadillo seems to be eating something. Its round back is incised with pyramid-shaped patterns and speckle incision marks, and its tail is also enhanced with an incision encircling incision lines. Lovingly made with attention to every detail, this clay armadillo reveals its relationship with Ancient Costa Ricans. In Costa Rica, armadillo was a source of animal protein along with wild goat and tapir. Armadillo, thus, provided nourishment for the people. Different tribes of Costa Rica often hunted them, and the incised enhancement on the sculpted armadillo is said to represent specific tribes. Considering how lovingly the creature is sculpted, it seems that the Ancient people were well aware of the important contribution of armadillos. Although armadillos were hunted and consumed, the hunters did not consider armadillo as just a source of nourishment but also as precious living creatures. The sculpted armadillo exhibits tribal marking--transference of tribal identification and status. This sculpture of the armadillo, thus, reveals the unique human relationship. Costa Ricans knew that their source of nourishment is also a respectful living creature, like the people in each tribe. The charming armadillo with his tender eating position also seems to acknowledge the natural cycle and needs of the world. - (PF.3435)


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