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Effigy Vessel

Arts of the Americas

The Jama-Coaque culture of Ecuador’s northern coast is known for complex moldmade and hand-modeled ceramic sculptures that depict people and animals. Felines are the most frequently represented animal, indicating their importance as symbols of power. On this modeled effigy vessel, the large jar on the jaguar’s back suggests that the object was ceremonial, perhaps used for ritual offerings. The style of the round, bulging eyes and nose indicates that the jaguar represents a supernatural being.
CULTURE Jama Coaque
MEDIUM Ceramic
DATES ca. 300 B.C.E.–600 C.E.
PERIOD Regional Developmental Period
DIMENSIONS 12 3/4 x 16 1/4 x 13 in. (32.4 x 41.3 x 33 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Tessim Zorach
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Large ceramic effigy vessel in the form of a snarling four-footed animal (probably a jaguar), with a vessel form on its back and a long, thick, downturned tail. The front paws are raised up with claws extended and underside pads visible including the dewclaws. The back paws rest on the ground. The large head has an open mouth with teeth and four fangs, a flat nose with scroll-like nostrils and long finger-like protrusions above it, round bulging eyes with spiky-pointed "eyelashes," protruding ears, and a short beard or lip plug below the lower lip. Protruding from the creature's back is a simple flaring jar vessel with a flat, disk-like rim. The surface of the clay is rough, and the surface of the jar is especially irregular. The small disc in the palm of the cat’s paws is typical of Jama Coaque objects. Condition: Good except for thin cracks in various areas over the entire surface.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Jama Coaque. Effigy Vessel, ca. 300 B.C.E.–600 C.E. Ceramic, 12 3/4 x 16 1/4 x 13 in. (32.4 x 41.3 x 33 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Tessim Zorach, 88.57.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 88.57.2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 88.57.2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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