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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Tlaloc Effigy Vessels : Tlaloc Effigy Vessel
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Tlaloc Effigy Vessel - PF.3597
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 12 th Century AD to 15 th Century AD
Dimensions: 11" (27.9cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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In a regal and powerful way, the figure of a man stands, giving this vessel a strong and dominant appearance. The vessel would have contained either liquid or food, and as the vessel was being presented to the guests, it would have been shaken. The two holes and two incisions on either side allowed the sound of the pebbles or seeds, which it contained to resound more clearly; some of these are still inside. The vessel itself is made of terracotta, which has been finished to make the piece very smooth. For its size, its weight is relatively light. Its polychrome designs emphasize the shape. The geometric and floral patterns decorating the vessel emphasize the craftsmanship of this piece. On the arms and legs a floral pattern has been painted, divided in some places by geometric band work. At the front of this piece, we have a face, both painted and sculpted. From beneath the eyes and eyebrows, come trickles of red, painted for tears. However, these could also symbolize rain, which was so essential to the livelihood of the people. The mouth with the protruding tongue is surrounded by geometric forms on either side. Emphasizing the nose, it has been painted brown, so as not to be hidden by the prominence of the red lips, tongue and teeth. On the front of the vessel, a pink residue around the earlobes and around the joints of the legs and arms seems to have been added at a later time. This may have been added during a ritualistic ceremony. Around the top of the vessel, the rim of the vessel has been painted with red paint, which has remnants of a high burnish causing it to shine. Along the neck is a series of banding. Within these bands are both painted geometric designs and a varying line pattern, which may be a form of hieroglyph. The remaining three quarters of the vessel at the back contains the picture of a frog, outlined in brown and painted in red with a simple line pattern on its back. The frog was the important symbol of fertility both in nature and for the people. The frog would come out of hibernation during the humid period, thus symbolizing a good harvest. - (PF.3597)


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