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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Zoomorphic Vessels : Terracotta Incencario
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Terracotta Incencario - PF.2518
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 600 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 25.25" (64.1cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Dramatic in appearance, this incensario is a superb example of modeled alligator ware, from the Guanacaste-Nicoya region of Costa Rica. Traditionally, this type of ceramic is neither finished with a slip nor burnished to a high sheen. Rather, it is embellished with elaborate hand modeling as seen in this striking incensario. The most compelling element of this incensario is the figure that sits atop the lid. Here we see a fantastic reptilian creature composed of two dramatic alligator heads that project from either end of a stocky alligator body. Explosions of spiky crests surround each head and snout like nimbus, adding a mythological quality to the alligator images. Raised nodules around the rim of the vessel and below the top, reminiscent of the scutes on an alligator's hide, add to the overall reptilian imagery of the incensario, enhancing its spirited power and energy. The Ancient Costa Ricans had tremendous admiration for the alligator, for this powerful animal embodied the desired qualities of strength and tenacity. Here we see these qualities manifested in a powerful work of art, its reptilian imagery emanating a compelling force, one that we are instantly drawn toward and delight in experiencing. - (PF.2518)


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