Pre-Columbian, Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsula, ca. 1000 to 1500 CE. A vibrantly decorated, footed, egg-shaped olla with an undulating silhouette and an impressive iconographic program featuring a lower band of crocodiles and an upper band of decorated lords or shamans with additional bands of rope/snake motifs and geometric designs. This magnificent vessel was produced in the Greater Nicoya region of Costa Rica where a proliferation of ceramic styles was inspired by the artistry of the Maya territories and central Mexico during the years prior to the Spanish conquest. A rather large example, it manifests the Vallejo style with its white-slipped surfaces and polychrome designs. The form alone, comprised of an orb-like olla atop a corseted pedestal, is quite striking as well. A nice example! Size: 6.25" in diameter x 7.25" H (15.9 cm x 18.4 cm)
The iconographic references to crocodiles were quite symbolic in the Pre-Columbian world. The crocodilian order, comprised of crocodiles, smaller alligators, and yet smaller caymans (all treated similarly in Pre-Columbian mythology) was highly symbolic to the ancients of the Americas. The crocodile being the oldest (approximately 55 million years old) was understood as a crocodilian earth monster and is oftentimes shown giving rise to what was known as the World Tree. Partial to a watery habitat, the crocodile is also a metaphor for fertility.
Provenance: ex-Vaught Collection, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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