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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Terracotta Trophy Heads : Terracotta Trophy Head
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Terracotta Trophy Head - PF.3522
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD

Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Human head effigies, both male and female, were produced throughout most of Costa Rica's artistic output. They usually serve as a functional object and a cult related symbol. Such ceramics as this one were of such a high quality only the wealthy elite could afford them. They may have served as funerary furnishings or as household goods. Early polychromatic ceramics are characterized by a tan slip painted with red and black. This handsome vessel shows a finely painted human face, probably male, with intensely staring eyes, simply depicted teeth and two 'winged' extensions in red on either side of the mouth, which may represent speech scrolls. This design of a solid bar fanning out into two points is repeated below the eyes and above the eye brows, thus completing the facial decoration. The face may represent a shaman/priest of one of the jaguar-crocodile cults which proliferated in Mesoamerica. The artist here uses clever touches of detail, such as the black swirls to give the face and entire vessel an expressive and dramatic appearance. - (PF.3522)


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