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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.3414
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 1200 AD to 1550 AD
Dimensions: 9.5" (24.1cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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From this beautifully created representation flows the emotions and personality of this deity and the lifestyle it led. The huge face is the most obvious and prominent representation of a particular deity. It may have been a reference to the Mexican god of rain, Tlaloc who was very powerful. The eyes look like sun disks, symbolizing this deity is eternal, and as mighty as the sun. Another symbolic representation that this deity is everlasting is the two bands of intertwining color on the back of the pot. The interplay of orange and white twists upon itself and creates a world where life and death are symbiotic. The patterning of the crocodile figures on the base of the vessel is repeated, representing the power and tremendous strength this deity possesses as well as the animal this culture worshipped. Other animal shapes on the vessel are heads of jaguars, an animal truly loved by this culture for its symbolism and its beauty. The nose, mouth, and ears are the only protruding objects on the entire work of art. This represents the power this deity holds upon the owner of this vase. The deity is omniscient, able to hear all, smell all, and taste the world around it. There is no fooling this deity into evil or kindness. The artist has created an almost realistic being, capable of coming to life at any minute through the colors, detail of facial expression, banding on the front as well as reverse sides of the vessel, and the precision of form. The face of the deity, the patterned crocodiles, and the bands of jaguar heads show the many symbols of worship of this Costa Rican culture. This artist has succeeded in opening up our minds to a higher world through a skillful composition. - (PF.3414)


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