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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Monkey Effigy Vessels : Polychrome Terracotta Vessel Depicting a Monkey
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Polychrome Terracotta Vessel Depicting a Monkey - PF.3975
Origin: Costa Rica
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 Costa Rica took particular delight in incorporating animals into their creations. Few objects, however, have come to light as clever as the design on this lovely vessel. It is primarily composed of two monkeys, similar to lemurs, whose bodies are seen in profile. From the flat surface of paint, the monkey’s heads emerging from the vessel and serving as handles suddenly achieves a three-D effect. Their charming faces peer out in wonder, as if surprised to find themselves in the real world. Their long, curly tails create a perfect connecting element, uniting the entire pictorial surface. Another surprising element is the legs of the animals, which turn into a geometric form. This may have a meaning connected with the animal, or be an aesthetic device to accentuate the curves of the arms and tails. The extraordinary achievement here is the blending of mystery and reality, figuration and abstraction in a work of art that is full of whimsy and great charm. - (PF.3975)


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