Jaguar vessel of the Guanacaste-Nicoya peoples

Object number
Object: Jaguar vessel of the Guanacaste-Nicoya peoples

Material: Clay with creme coloured slip and details painted in red and black.

Period: Kingdom of Nicoya, Guanacaste region,
current Costa Rica,
800 AD to 1200 AD.

Description:    Imposing animal-shaped vessel from the Kingdom of Nicoya. The bulbous body stands on two front feet and a rear tail. The body is covered in painted black and red decorations. A plastic mouth sits under the neck of the vessel. The front paws resting on the legs of this impressive vessel mimic the meditation pose of the shaman, with hands resting on knees. This vessel shows not just a jaguar but a transformed shaman in his/her animal form. Clay pellets contained within the hollow mouth transform this vessel into a rattle when shaken, reminding of the sound made by the animal.
The jaguar is a major motif in the art of Guanacaste and Nicoya. Vessels of this kind were used in the funeral cult, the jaguar being associated with the god Tezcatlipoca. He is the god of war and darkness, in mythology Tezcatlipoca devours the sun and thus brings about the night.

Dimensions: 28.5cm tall. 19cm wide.

Condition: One leg re-attached. Otherwise very good condition.

Provenance: Acquired by us in 2016 on the US American art market. Previously in a US American private collection, acquired in 1995. The piece was with various US American owners since at least 1983, the Young collection is passed down by name. It was published in 1983 in the book Pre-Columbian Art by Jose A. Franch.

References: Published in Jose A. Franch, Pre-Columbian Art (New York, 1983).

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.