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Jaguar Effigy Vessel

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
Usually found in funerary contexts, large jaguar effigy vessels with bold red and black designs on a light background were apparently highly desirable goods in ancient Costa Rica. Perhaps it was believed that objects depicting fierce predators such as the jaguar transferred their strength to the deceased. The selective placement of jaguar markings and imagery on this example suggests that the vessel represents a person and his jaguar alter ego. During trances Costa Rican shamans are believed to symbolically transform themselves into jaguars in order to move between natural and supernatural realms.

Usualmente encontradas en contextos funerarios, las grandes vasijas efigie con llamativos diseños en rojo y negro sobre un fondo blanco eran aparentemente muy cotizadas en la antigua Costa Rica. Quizás se creía que objetos que representaban fieros depredadores como el jaguar podían transferir su fortaleza al difunto. La posición selectiva de las marcas e imagen del jaguar en este ejemplo sugieren que la vasija representa a una persona y su alter ego jaguar. Durante los trances, se cree que los chamanes de Costa Rica se transforman simbólicamente en jaguares para moverse entre los mundos natural y sobrenatural.
CULTURE Greater Nicoya
MEDIUM Ceramic, pigment
DATES 1000-1350 CE
DIMENSIONS 13 3/8 x 10 13/16 in. (34 x 27.5 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund
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CAPTION Greater Nicoya. Jaguar Effigy Vessel, 1000-1350 CE. Ceramic, pigment, 13 3/8 x 10 13/16 in. (34 x 27.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 48.140.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 48.140.2_view1_acetate_bw.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 48.140.2_view1_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Large pear-shaped tripod jar with modeled jaguar features. Two legs and a tail form the tripod supports, and the upper section has an elaborately modeled jaguar head framed by two arms with hands resting on the legs. Practically the entire vessel is covered with painted designs in red, white and black referred to as Pataky Polychrome, Period VI. Condition: good; some of the surface decoration is abraded.
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Greater Nicoya. <em>Jaguar Effigy Vessel</em>, 1000-1350 CE. Ceramic, pigment, 13 3/8 x 10 13/16 in. (34 x 27.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 48.140.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 48.140.2_view1_acetate_bw.jpg)