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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Zoomorphic Vessels : Polychrome Zoomorphic Vessel
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Polychrome Zoomorphic Vessel - PF.3417
Origin: Costa Rica (Guanacaste)
Circa: 1200 AD to 1550 AD
Dimensions: 9.5" (24.1cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The patterning of colors and shapes over this vase makes the composition of this work extraordinary. As we stare at the combination of black, orange, brown, and white we find the colors aesthetically pleasing as well as bold in their visual contrasts. We assume that the artist has made a consistent choice to depict nature and explore the patterns seen in the natural world. Thus, the top banding of color reminds us of the patterns of rock formations, and landscapes seen in Costa Rica. The second layer looks like the patterning of houses with the black representing nightfall, and the orange to show daybreak on either side of the home. The true symbol of nature, the animal, is seen three times very boldly painted in order to express this culture's reverence for the crocodile. The crocodile was a very prominent part of this Costa Rican culture. Though they worshipped this animal and placed it on their artworks, they also feared the power and mysteriousness of the beast. Depicted here is a crocodile's head attached to a human-like body. This culture is willing to give the crocodile human characteristics, such as muscular limbs and a small body shape, which shows how they revered this animal. The patterning on the base shows us the changing colors and patterns of light and dark, day and night, life and death, which always remain part of our art, and our culture. - (PF.3417)


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