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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Art of Costa Rica : Human Effigy Vessel
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Human Effigy Vessel - PF.3140
Origin: Costa Rica (Guanacaste)
Circa: 1 AD to 300 AD

Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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During a time when hunting, gathering of wild fruits and nuts and agriculture was the major occupation of existence, it is no wonder that we find this vessel which is probably a symbol of fertility. Due to the tattoo or body paint on her thigh area and seen on her chest and shoulders, we may ask ourselves if this is merely a decorative motif or if it has great symbolic significance. The latter is perhaps the best explanation because these ancient people viewed their entire world as sacred. The stars, sun, moon and mountains all had ritual and religious significance. These symbols on this figure's body may represent a constellation in the sky that may have been an important recurring constellation, which preceded the seasonal rains in Costa Rica. By placing the constellations on the figure, the person who held this vessel may have been seen as the shaman who was responsible for creating the constellations and therefore, the seasonal rains. The shaman may have used this vessel during a fertility ritual. It may have held a special beverage or seeds of an important crop that needed the rains for fertilization and growth. Although the ravages of time have passed and laid its mark on this Ancient vessel, its aura of dignity and sculptural monumentality have remained intact. - (PF.3140)


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