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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Costa Rican Chocolate Pots : Tripod Vessel
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Tripod Vessel - PF.3540
Origin: Costa Rica (Atlantic Watershed)
Circa: 300 AD to 700 AD
Dimensions: 13.5" (34.3cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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This creative and intriguing tripod vessel stirs our curiosity with its unique quality. The small, flared-mouth cup of this tripod vessel is supported by long, slightly curved legs bearing men with the expression of astonishment. With one hand on the chest and the other hand on the head, the well-sculpted faces of the figures dramatically show amazement, as if they saw something extraordinary. The thin legs of the figures seem to be wrapped around their back, with the large feet holding onto the hollow tripod legs. Interestingly, the figures have tails resembling the monkey image. Perhaps these men are in monkey array as symbols of a ritual. Animals such as monkeys, alligators, and bats often appear as Ancient Costa Rican iconography because such creatures embodying ritual significance were specially revered. Moreover, the cup itself shows three small applique of minimal faces that resemble monkeys. Decorated with such rich symbolic images, this graceful tripod vessel most likely had a special place in a ritual scene. Could it have contained some magical potion or mysterious plants that induced spiritual visions? Or did it contain blood (life) of a sacrificed person? Maybe the vessel just contained daily sustenance such as water or grain, which were offered in rituals to thank the gods for prosperous harvests. Held up by the gracefully elongated legs, this vessel displays a superb sculptural quality. The physical beauty of the tripod vessel is as magnificent and fascinating as its function. As we contemplate this beautiful vessel, we appreciate the timeless aesthetics of ancient art form that pleases the modern eyes. - (PF.3540)


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