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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.4146
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 800 AD to 1550 AD
Dimensions: 9" (22.9cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The attraction of using a white slip enabled the artist to bring out symbolic designs and themes which made it distinctive and easy to read. The face is supported on a base that was painted to resemble the neck. It has bands of tribal designs in a twisted rope shape that wrap around the bottom of the vessel. The patterns are reminiscent of the tattoos used by that culture. The mouth is unusual in shape. It looks as if it is blowing a whistle. There are distinct red lines that surround the mouth and give it a quality of having a moustache. A red necklace highlighted with black lines running through it adds another dimension to this art piece. The nose is stylistic and the eyes are painted on and they are peering down upon something. The most noticeably different characteristic of this vase are the sides. The ears have painted red earrings, but then tribal patterns representing a type of headdress cascades down from behind the ears. Another intricate tribal motif acts as the cap of this face and gives this vessel an important energy. The other striking and significant feature is the replication of the face from the front also presented on the back. It is identical, but slightly smaller in size. This is truly symbolic and as a container that holds items, it must have been important in ritualistic activities assisting the shamans to elicit the gods. The beautiful rendering of this face is a wonderful example of the craftsmanship of the people from the Nicoya area. The designs of this vessel are painted on a white slip and the face is said to represent the rain God Tlaloc. Due to the long endurance of the face effigy theme and because of artist interpretation of this theme an abstraction of the facial features occurred when they were once very realistic. Today we can enjoy the mutation with awe and respect. - (PF.4146)


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