Half-human/half-animal vessels were very
popular for hundreds of years in Costa Rica.
Artists used their inventive skills to create
images that seem to occupy two separate realms
of reality at once; subtly and cleverly playing with
established imagery in an attempt to express
something profound to themselves and the
community in which they lived. This amazing
vessel was probably made for a wealthy member
of the elite classes and used as a storage
container or drinking vessel. The bulbous belly is
made even more prominent by the lovely red slip
decorated with bold black lines in an intricate
pattern on the chest and sides. The tripod feet
bend at the knees to give extra support, and
their thickness is nicely contrasted with the very
thin arms holding onto the sides of the stomach.
As with many such vessels the face is
zoomorphic with a definite alligator motif, yet
still quite human. Elaborate decoration of the
painting combined with ornamental details such
as earspools and necklace present aspects of the
wealthy individuals for whom it was made and
offers us a glimpse into their lives.