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Bowl with Incised Motifs
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Bowl with Incised Motifs

Description Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description The brown color and elongated, curvilinear form of this bowl recalls that of a gourd, the most common food-service vessel in Mesoamerica. To this day, gourds remain an important household item as well as the preferred container for ceremonial offerings, from those for curing the sick to Catholic rites of veneration. Throughout Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala today, guests are honored by being served a chocolate beverage in a gourd drinking cup, a practice reaching back at least to 1600 bce. The bowl's graceful curvature is accentuated by the burnish lines that follow the vessel's contours. In place of the gourd's stem, the artist incised geometric motifs that have symbolic associations. The four short, arched lines recall the gum line of the jaguar and the Olmec dragon, which symbolizes the surface of the earth. Radiating from this important motif are parallel lines that imply the gourd's natural flutes.
  • 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.
Provenance Stendahl Galleries, Los Angeles [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [1]; John G. Bourne, 1970s, by purchase; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 2017. [1] Said to have been found "one inside the other" with 2009.20.269
Credit Bequest of John G. Bourne, 2017

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1200-600 BCE (Early-Middle Formative)
burnished earthenware with incising
Accession Number
H: 4 1/8 x W: 9 5/16 x D: 6 in. (10.48 x 23.62 x 15.24 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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