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Tripod Bowl with Skull

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
A vividly animated skull with swirling scrolls emanating from the back of the cranium and mouth adorns this vessel. The two scrolls at the back of the head may symbolize blood, connoting sacrifice—a theme that is further reinforced by the serrated knife under the skull. The knife’s wavy blade also alludes to blood, and the U-shaped form behind the skull suggests a carrying strap for a trophy head. Visual references to blood and sacrifice indicate that this vessel was most likely used in rituals.


Una calavera vívidamente animada con decoración de volutas emanando de la parte trasera del cráneo y de la boca adorna esta vasija. Las dos volutas detrás de la cabeza pueden simbolizar sangre, denotando sacrificio –un tema que se refuerza con el cuchillo serrado bajo la calavera. La hoja ondulada del cuchillo también alude a la sangre, y la forma en “U” detrás de la calavera sugiere una correa para llevar una cabeza trofeo. Referencias visuales a la sangre y el sacrificio indican que esta vasija era seguramente utilizada en rituales.
CULTURE Mixteca-Puebla
MEDIUM Ceramic, pigments
  • Possible Place Collected: Veracruz, Mexico
  • DATES 1000-1500
    DIMENSIONS 5 15/16 x 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (15.1 x 26.7 x 26.7 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 64.51.1
    CREDIT LINE Carll H. de Silver Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Mixteca-Puebla. Tripod Bowl with Skull, 1000-1500. Ceramic, pigments, 5 15/16 x 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (15.1 x 26.7 x 26.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Carll H. de Silver Fund, 64.51.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 64.51.1_side_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE side, 64.51.1_side_SL1.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 Painted, tripod bowl. Central area of interior has brown on cream painted skull; edges have brown on cream geometric designs; sides of exterior have black, white, and red geometric designs. Legs of tripod are hollow and contain clay rattles. Condition: good; object was broken into 8 pieces and repaired; some pieces are missing. Original repairs dismantled and re-repaired in June 2004.
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