The Treasury - Fine Pre-Columbian Art


11078. LARGE NICOYA POLYCHROME JAGUAR VESSEL, Costa Rica, Guanacaste-NIcoya, Nicoya Peninsula, c. 13th-14th century AD. The large ornately decorated vessel with bulbous piriform body rising to a wide slightly flared rim standing on three large tripod legs, the front two the paws of the jaguar shaman and the back leg his tail, the paws of his front two legs resting on the knees of the back two. The whole pained with intricate geometrical designs in red and black on a buff ground. Dimensions are 9 x 12 inches. The head neatly and unobtrusively reattached to the body, otherwise all intact and original. A beautiful and impressive large piece. Provenance: The Princeton Collection. Acquired by the current owner from an East Coast antiquities gallery in the 1990's.

Human shamans who shape shifted into animals, especially jaguars, under the influence of psychotropic drugs are a specialized motif in Meso-American art. The current piece, with its jaguar head and tail and anthropomorphized arms and legs is an especially impressive example.