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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Tlaloc Effigy Vessels : Vessel Depicting the Head of Tlaloc
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Vessel Depicting the Head of Tlaloc - PF.4121
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 800 AD to 1550 AD
Dimensions: 13.5" (34.3cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta


Location: United States
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Description
The attraction of using a white slip enabled the artist to bring out symbolic designs and themes which made it distinctive and easy to read. The face is supported on a tripod that resembles the body's legs. The legs and feet are highly stylized and look more like paws of an animal. The prominent feature is the face that occupies the entire front of the vessel. The mouth is very distinct and powerful. The upper lip is raised and painted red and there are incisions made to represent the teeth. The lower lip has not been molded, but painted on in a long wide red shape reminiscent of a tongue. A tribal design frames the tongue in geometric shapes. They are highlighted by orange and black. There are distinct red lines that come out from the mouth and give it a quality of having a moustache. The nose is realistic and protrudes out from the vessel. The eyes are slightly raised and they seem to be peering down upon something. The whole effect of the face gives this vessel a sinister energy. The ears are sculpted with very long earlobes and are adorned with ear disks. There is an intricate tribal motif that follows the mouth rim of this vessel and drapes down onto the back of the head. It has tribal designs and sketches of ritualistic activities. The beautiful rendering of this face is a wonderful example of the craftsmanship of the people from the Nicoya area. The designs of this vessel are painted on a white slip and the face is said to represent the rain God Tlaloc. Due to the long endurance of the face effigy theme and because of artist interpretation of this theme an abstraction of the facial features occurred when they were once very realistic. Today we can enjoy the mutation with awe and respect. - (PF.4121)

 

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