Pre-Columbian, Oaxaca, Mexico, Zapotec culture, Monte Alban, ca. 100 BCE to 200 CE. A fascinating ceramic vessel with a large applied figure on one side of it. The figure is draped in finery, with a huge cape that appears to be made of woven rope and a massive, multi-tiered headdress topped by two twisted, bunny-ear-like projections and a tall central cone. Behind the figure is the ovoid body of the vessel, which sits on a flat base. The figure's thumbs can be seen peeking out from underneath the cape just below the chin, where they appear to be holding a leaf or similar item. Size: 6.55" W x 9" H (16.6 cm x 22.9 cm)
The Zapotec, like many pre-Columbian civilizations, placed clay effigies into burials, often in the form of urns or vessels. Who are the figures depicted on vessels like this one, and what was their purpose? They may represent the deities themselves, but more likely, they seem to represent ancestors or shamans impersonating gods, but may even represent spirits.
Provenance: private Southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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