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, three-dimensional flanges that extend beyond the contours of the vessel. The artist then painted details of wing and tail feathers as panels extending below the modeled forms to complete their renderings. The painted red and white design on the vessel's pedestal support mimics the colors of the painted wings, thereby accentuating the harmonious whole. Each of the sides of this extraordinary vessel are 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. The colors are still bright and fresh on the vessel, which is part of a group of ceramics in what is known as the "Papagayo Polychrome" style.
- 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. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2015.
- Transformation: Art of the Ancient Americas. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2018-2019.
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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