Pre-Columbian, Costa Rica, Guanacaste, ca. 400 to 850 CE. Charming and sizeable, this hand-built polychrome terracotta olla presents an elegant round-bottomed form rising to a gradually tapering neck and a flared, flattened rim. The neck is decorated with four stepped pyramidal motifs, and an endearing seated anthropomorphic figure with arms crossed and hands placed upon upraised knees presents an expressive visage comprised of coffee bean shaped eyes, a wide nose, and a toothy grimace - topped by a fringe of bangs that resolves in pronounced ears. An attractive example displaying strong artistry and intriguing iconography. Size: 12" in diameter x 11.75" H (30.5 cm x 29.8 cm)
Many ancient cultures of the Americas built grand pyramids - the Olmec, Maya, Aztec, and Inca for example all created pyramids to honor/house their deities and bury their kings. The Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacan, the Castillo at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan, the Aztec's Great Pyramid in Tenochtitlan, and the Pyramid of Cholula and the Inca's capital in Cuzco probably come to mind. However, Costa Rica is not known for such massive pyramids. So the fact that this piece depicts pyramidal motifs is quite interesting. Was the artisan aware of the pyramids created by fellow Pre-Columbian civilizations? Was this an aspiration for the cultures of Costa Rica? Or were pyramids simply part of the collective visual culture vocabulary of the Pre-Columbian world?
Provenance: private Tacoma, Washington, USA collection
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