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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Art of Panama : Pre-Columbian Art / Cocle Terracotta Polychrome Vessel
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Pre-Columbian Art / Cocle Terracotta Polychrome Vessel - PF.4484a
Origin: Panama
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 7.25" (18.4cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The ceramic artists of Cocle created a unique imagery that bears strong Shamanic overtones. Shamans were of vital importance to everyday life due to their knowledge of medicinal herbs and as consultants on the afterlife since they were reputed to be able to travel in their spirit bodies to different realms. Since much of the pottery was found in tombs, it is conceivable that the remarkable design patterns on Cocle objects are directly related to concepts regarding both physical life and the afterlife. The Shamans believed in a principle similar to the Chinese Ying- Yang; the union of opposites, often represented by male and female, governs that life. Though essentially different in nature, when male and female energies are brought together life is created. On this fascinating and lovely vessel we see the elements of duality in graphic form. There are two pairs of smiling faces, drawn in a simple manner one over the other in a mirror image. Each pair is surrounded by a complex pattern of half triangles done with thin black lines and bordered in thick red. In contrast to this there are two relatively free areas of two thick black borders, four triangles in red and a horizontal bar used as a connecting center. What we are seeing is pure geometry done with such vigorous effect it is as if the vessel is emitting its own energy field. The faces may represent a deity, or a Shaman in abstraction who is at the center of a dynamic force. Nearly the entire surface is covered in designs that are enthralling in their complexity and beautiful in their inherent mystery. - (PF.4484a)


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