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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Zoomorphic Vessels : Ceremonial Bat Effigy Vessel
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Ceremonial Bat Effigy Vessel - PF.3112b
Origin: Costa Rica (Guanacaste)
Circa: 200 AD to 500 AD

Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The bat. . . mysterious and nocturnal, fast and unpredictable. This important large effigy vessel portrays a human being costumed as a bat. Not just any human being, but most probably a leader, warrior or shaman whose position in society prevails above all others. The very large size of this vessel suggests that it was a container for a substance utilized in a ritual where a mythological figure symbolized by a bat was important. There is also a close resemblance to an alligator snout on the bat's face, which may represent further reptilian symbolism associated with the bat. There are interesting geometric designs inscribed on the front of his body that may be an abstract representation of two eyes with a snarling mouth. His ankles are adorned with ornate jewelry and he has a bracelet on each wrist. He gallantly holds the cape, and we can imagine the movement he may have made with his arms flapping the cape like wings. Bats have greatly elongated fore limbs, which are accurately represented from his neck to the center of his chest. Although the mythological significance of the bat is not fully understood, his majestic pose and self-assurance exudes his importance in ritual and in the lives of the ancient Costa Rican people. This vessel has an aura of greatness and reverence, which speaks to us without words. - (PF.3112b)


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