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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Zoomorphic Vessels : Crocodile Effigy Vessel
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Crocodile Effigy Vessel - PF.3415
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 1200 AD to 1550 AD
Dimensions: 12" (30.5cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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The crocodile is a symbol of fertility and the rains for the Ancient Costa Ricans. When the crocodile mates once a year, it lets out a roar from flapping its tail. The impact of the tail creates ripples upon the water. By coincidence, the crocodile mates right before the rainy season in Middle America. Thus, Ancient people thought that the crocodile determined whether or not there would be rains if it flapped its tail during mating season. The crocodile's "thunder" represented the rainy season's thunder, which was imperative for this culture's crops to grow. This crocodile is a symbol for power and majesty in the Costa Rican culture. Crocodile's and humans were cohabitants in the jungle-like environment of Costa Rica, making the people simultaneously reveres and fears these creatures for their immense power. This artist has created a beautiful example of how this culture felt about the crocodile. It is also a rattle, showing that it was used in rituals, or ceremonial worship. As the crocodile smiles at us, he shows us his sharp teeth, accentuated by the angular, black lines. Its beauty is fearsome and magnificent at the same time. The patterning on the vessel may represent the shapes created as the tail beats upon the water. These geometric shapes create a fantastic movement around the vessel. The lines are very angular, reflecting the strength of the crocodile. The artist of this magnificent work of art shows us the Costa Rican's favorite animal, and the crocodile's immense power. - (PF.3415)


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