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Jaguar Vessel

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Image of Jaguar Vessel

photography by John Strand

Jaguar Vessel

14 x 9 3/4 x 11 1/2 in. (35.6 x 24.8 x 29.2 cm)

Greater Nicoya artist
Costa Rica

Greater Nicoya Culture Zone; made in Costa Rica

Object Type: Ceramics
Medium and Support: Clay, pigment
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1969.90
Location: Currently on view
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This vessel has all the features of a jaguar: ferocious snarling face, sharp teeth, long tail and golden black-spotted coat. The hollow legs and the mouth contain small clay balls that rattle when the jar is shaken, in imitation of the jaguar’s growl. Admired for their strength and agility, jaguars were a powerful and ubiquitous symbol frequently adopted by shamans as an alter-ego. Here the jaguar is depicted in a human-like crouch with the “hands” placed on the knees – a position not possible for this animal. In fact, what we’re witnessing is a typical meditation pose of a shaman and the transformation into his/her animal form.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

Dr. Henry Buxbaum (1900-1979), Canandaigua, NY; purchased from him by the Gallery in 1969

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Odyssey Online Explore jaguars in pre-Columbian art in this website for students jointly created by the Memorial Art Gallery and Emory University's Carlos Museum.
Animals in Art Discover the many ways images of animals appear in art: as pets, working animals, wild animals, animal habitats, animals in fables & myths, animals as symbols, animals as teachers.
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