Pipe or Incense Burner in the Shape of a Small Child or Acrobat
200 BCE -100 BCE
3 11/16 x 4 1/8 x 3 3/8 in. (9.4 x 10.5 x 8.5 cm)
Zapotec; made in Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico
Medium and Support:
Gift of Susan and Bernard Schilling
Location: Currently on view
This object has been described as a pipe or an incense burner in the shape of a child or an acrobat. The bowl opens up on the figure’s back and a spout or mouthpiece emerges from the forehead. The material likely burned in the bowl while smoke exited through the forehead spout; the smoke of copal incense was believed to be the brains of the gods.
With eyes closed, hands held to the mouth, and cheeks and lips distended, the figure appears to be blowing or holding breath as if underwater. The unusual shape and orientation of flipper-like feet add to the impression that this figure is swimming.
[Gallery label text, 2009]