Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Huastec, ca. 900 to 1450 CE. A charming, rotund vessel in the form of a fierce javelina (also known as a collared peccary, saino, or baquiro). The vessel stands on the animal's four legs and flattened belly; the spout stands up from the tail and a wide, round vessel mouth bulges from the animal's back. The face is delightful, with a long, upturned snout, bared teeth, narrowed eyes, and round, upstanding ears. The vessel is bichrome, with dark red slip on an orange-beige slipped background. The red gives figural details, as at the ears and mouth, as well as forming a dramatic, spiraling motif around the rim of the vessel mouth and on the sides of the animal's body. Size: 9" L x 4.75" W x 5.5" H (22.9 cm x 12.1 cm x 14 cm)
The javelina (Pecari tajacu) is a familiar animal to many people in the New World, with a range extending from central South America to the U.S. states of Texas and Arizona. They run in packs of up to fifty individuals and are aggressive if they feel threatened - defending themselves with their teeth, releasing a strong musky smell, and often making a sharp, distinctive barking sound. The Huastec certainly were familiar with the animals, and would have hunted them for subsistence - the flavor of their meat is similar to that of Old World pigs. However, they also seem to have played an important role in Mesoamerican mythology. For example, the Maya created pottery that depicts the animals as buffers within the liminal watery zone between the earth and the underworld. Based on other Mesoamerican artwork, the javelina seems to have been associated with the constellation we know as Gemini.
Provenance: Alan Long collection, New York, USA
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