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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Miscellaneous : Pre-Columbian / Carbonera Sculpture of an Armadillo
Pre-Columbian / Carbonera Sculpture of an Armadillo - PF.2972
Origin: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Circa: 200 BC to 100 BC

Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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This plump armadillo with its playful stance and charming expression is a ceramic in the Carbonera style from the Osa Peninsula in Diquis. The Osa Peninsula is a sparsely inhabited area that represents a style unique to that zone. Their zoned-incised red-on-buff decoration, combined with a resist-painted dot motif, recalls pottery traditions from the area between northern Peru (Gallinazo and Vicus styles) and Southern Colombia (Tumaco), including many Coastal Ecuadorian styles. Animal protein sources in Diquis included the armadillo along with two kinds of peccary, wild goat and tapir. The pattern on this delightful armadillo may represent a motif of a particular clan inhabiting the Osa Peninsula. Certain clans were prohibited from hunting certain animals or utilizing other kinds of resources, having to deal instead with the clan that was allowed to do so. The motif on this armadillo most probably represents the clan that was responsible for hunting armadillos and distributing the food to the co-existing clans in exchange for other foodstuffs. Man-nature relationships were systemized, and knowledge of clan duties gave the individual an insight into the structure of his society, and by extension, into the Universe as his religion perceived it. Taboos and restrictions for certain clans tended to create social harmony, as far as resource exploitation and succession to power were concerned. Indeed, the joyful expression on this armadillo confirms to us that social harmony and humane resource exploitation certainly did exist among the prehistoric clans occupying the Osa Peninsula of tropical Costa Rica. - (PF.2972)


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