Pre-Columbian, Central America, Panama, Gran Cocle culture, ca. 800 to 1000 CE. A handsome bowl, painted in its interior with black (now faded to dark brown) - outlined red and blue/lilac decoration of a sea bird, its large, curved beak turned to one side to display itself in profile; it also has one huge eye, a thick crest, and large wings and tail feathers. The exterior is painted a burnished, earthy red. The bowl stands atop a tall pedestal with a flared, hollow base. Size: 8" W x 4.7" H (20.3 cm x 11.9 cm)
In the Gran Cocle Pre-Columbian kingdom, geometric design elements such as these were imbued with powerful symbolism, although the cognitive intent of these has largely been forgotten or is no longer known. Researchers have attempted to relate these figures to real taxa of animals, but ultimately have concluded that they are representative of mythological types. The brightly colored Cocle ceramics refer to the contemporary belief system, which seems to have revolved around a mythic "Rainbow Serpent" who was believed to be the original designer of these motifs. Sea birds, like the one shown here, also seem to have had particular power in this mythology.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection, ex J. Berryman collection, Florida, USA
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