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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Terracotta Skull Vessel With Spout
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Terracotta Skull Vessel With Spout - PF.3956
Origin: Costa-Rica
Circa: 800 AD to 1200 AD
Dimensions: 8.25" (21.0cm) high
Catalogue: V20
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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The artist who created this fascinating skull terra-cotta vessel was not only a fine sculptor; he was also very perceptive in the type of glaze he chose for the vessel. It is a white glaze that is similar to human skulls. It has a remarkable realistic human resemblance. This person most probably desired this vessel to represent the death deity for rituals. In general, the Mesoamericans believed the universe embraced the heavens and underworld as one. There was no separation between the terrestrial world and the supernatural world. Everyday experience incorporated these two worlds together; it was an ordinary aspect of their reality. Thus, the world of the dead was closely integrated into the world of the living. Deceased ancestors were believed to have powerful influences upon the living. Major festivals honored the dead. The person who used this vessel during rituals most probably acted as the death deity. By appeasing the death deity through ritual, the ancient Costa Ricans may have felt that their ancestors would be safe in the Underworld and have favorable influences upon the living. Or perhaps the death deity acted as an intermediary for the humans to communicate with the deceased. Due to their perception of the unity of the terrestrial, supernatural worlds and the Underworld as one, we can only imagine that this vessel played an important part in rituals in honor of the death deity who had good intentions for all: the gods, humans and the dead. - (PF.3956)


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