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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Terracotta Seated Female Vessel
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Terracotta Seated Female Vessel - PF.4628
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 300 BC to 300 AD
Dimensions: 16.5" (41.9cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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This extraordinary vessel is representative of a special group of terracottas, which constitute some of the most fascinating works of art from the ancient world. The artistic style of this group is directly related to the vessels' imagery, and this in turn to their function. What we are seeing here is a seated female figure with very specific features common to those of her style: Swelling of the abdomen, the pigeon breast, left hand over area of the liver, hunchback, raised shoulders, and large white protuberance emerging from the mouth. The physical malformations such as the pigeon breast and hunchback are characteristic of shamans, and were not considered deformities but signs of supernatural power. There is probably a correlation between the hand over the liver and the white mouth. This vessel was possibly used by a female shaman to cure liver disease, and intended to hold therapeutic herbs or potions. The mouth swelling may indicate the disease being ejected from the body. The intriguing and beautiful body paint is similar to other such vessels, particularly the pattern on the chest that may have been a shamanic emblem. The power of this vessel is enormous, its mystery tantalizing, its unique beauty undeniable; holding within itself secrets that someday may be revealed. - (PF.4628)


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