Pre-Columbian, Brazil, Marajoara culture, ca. 800 to 1400 CE. A massive ceramic urn with a bulbous, teardrop shaped body and petite, round base. The vessel would have once had a rim - see the example listed below from Sotheby's to see a similar vessel with a rim. Swirling, incised lines cover the exterior of the vessel, with transformative, anthropomorphic/zoomorphic faces appearing near the corseted neck and lower edge of the vessel. These are surrounded by labyrinthine linear motifs. Researchers believe that the decoration on Marajoara pottery was inspired by shamanistic visions. The urn's interior is smooth and undecorated. Size: 20.5" W x 22.5" H (52.1 cm x 57.2 cm)
The Marajoara - also known as the Marajo - flourished on Marajo Island, in the mouth of the Amazon River. During the Pre-Columbian era, they built impressive mounds and lived subsistence lifestyles while producing stylistically-unique, beautiful pottery like this; today, their descendants like the Shipibo continue to produce ceramics in a similar style. Prior to around 1600, this was a large-scale civilization, contrary to what many western researchers believed of the Amazon - the mounds ranged from 3 to 10 meters in height, and some sites cover more than 10 square kilometers and contain 20 to 30 individual mounds. Urns like this one were buried in the many large cemeteries known from the region, and the soil conditions have preserved the human remains inside them quite well; as of yet, no formal studies have been undertaken on them, representing a potential treasure trove of information that could rewrite what we think of the ancient Amazon Basin.
Sotheby's offered a similar ceramic urn in 2013: http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2013/collection-barbier-mueller-pf1340/lot.311.html
Provenance: private Tucson, Arizona, USA collection, acquired between 1950 and 1985
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Rim is lost, with a short hairline fracture down the side from the rim in one place. Otherwise the piece is in fantastic condition, completely unrepaired/unrestored, with nice deposits on interior and exterior. Motifs are very clear.