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Raptorial Bird Effigy Vessel, Possibly a Falcon
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Raptorial Bird Effigy Vessel, Possibly a Falcon


Description Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description This masterful portrayal of a shaman's raptorial bird spirit form relies on a skillful integration of modeling and painting to achieve a convincing composition. The bird's head, including the raptor's deadly pointed beak, and the tips of its wings and tail are indicated by modeled flanges. The artist then painted details of wing and tail feathers as panels extending below the modeled forms to complete their renderings. The painted design on the vessel's pedestal support mimics the painted wings, thereby accentuating the avian identity of the effigy vessel. The sides of this extraordinary vessel are each painted with a human form. Their skillful integration into the bird's body reveals the true significance of the vessel as the depiction of a shaman's spirit form. Each of the two figures grasps a staff surmounted by a human skull, the staff perhaps making reference to the shaman's spiritual transformation being likened to death and rebirth.
Exhibitions
  • Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville. 2012-2013.
  • Gold of the Ancient Americas. 2015.
Provenance Enrique Vargas; purchased by John G. Bourne, 1990s; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 2017.
Credit Bequest of John G. Bourne, 2017

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Period
AD 1000-1350 (Period VI)
Medium
earthenware, white slip overall, with painted decoration
(Sculpture)
Accession Number
2009.20.282
Measurements
H: 12 x W: 7 3/16 x D: 8 13/16 in. (30.48 x 18.29 x 22.35 cm)
Geographies
  • Nicaragua (Place of Origin)
  • Costa Rica, Guanacaste, Greater Nicoya (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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