Pre-Columbian, Central America, Panama, Gran Cocle, Macaracas style, ca. 800 to 1000 CE. A beautiful hand-built pottery jar of a round-bottomed form with a spherical body, a rounded shoulder that tapers to a squat neck, and a discoid rim. The cream-slipped body is decorated with dense polychrome motifs in red, black, and purple hues - the purple being indicative of the Macaracas style. Among a field of colorful curvilinear motifs are three characteristically abstract saurian creatures with discoid eyes, curling snouts, clawed hands, rows of serrated teeth, and spiraling tendrils projecting from the head. Included is a petite hemispherical lid bearing a trio of similar saurian figures, each enclosed within a black border and surrounding a central red dot. Size (w/o lid): 5.9" Diameter x 4.6" H (15 cm x 11.7 cm).
According to scholar Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, "The Gran Cocle culture is a Pre-Columbian archaeological culture that gets its name from the area from which it was based, the now present-day Cocle province of Panama. The Gran Cocle term applies to a loosely studied group of Native American sub-cultures in this region, identified by their pottery styles. The overall period spans a time from 150 B.C. to the end in the 16th century A.D. upon Spanish contact. The most ancient culture is the La Mula period from 150 B.C. to 300 A.D. The La Mula and later Monagrillo and Tonosi pottery styles are identified by their the use of three paint colors which were black, red and white (or cream). The later Cubita style saw the emergence of the use of four colors. The styles of Conte, Macaracas and Joaquín added purple to their palette and this hue ranged from grayish tones to red purple. The use of purple disappeared in the subsequent styles of Parita and El Altillo and the paint style reverted back to the use of three colors. Most notable in the artistic renderings are the overt use of geometric designs." (For more information, see Armand Labbe, "Guardians of The Life Stream: Shamans, Art and Power in Prehispanic Central Panama" - Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, University of Washington Press, 1995.)
For a large plate with a similar polychrome saurian motif, please see: Labbe, Armand J. "Guardians of the Life Stream: Shamans, Art and Power in Prehispanic Central Panama." The University of Washington Press, 1995, p. 39, fig. 37.
Provenance: ex-private New York, New York, USA collection
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Both lid and vessel have minor abrasions to rims and pigment, with light fading to original pigmentation, and heavy encrustations within body of vessel, otherwise intact and very good. Light earthen deposits, great manganese blooms, and wonderful traces of original pigment throughout.