Tripod Jaguar Effigy Vessel


Large beige zoomorphic vessel with animal legs and face as handle.

Tripod Jaguar Effigy Vessel, Late Period VI, 1200-1400 CE
Polychrome earthenware
Accession date: 2002
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Weiser

An effigy vessel combines the body of an animal and a vessel into a single object. This jaguar effigy is a definitive example of Nicoya polychrome ware with characteristic bands of ornamentation depicting silhouetted feline motifs, coiling serpent designs and stylized patterns. A realistic modeled and appliqu├ęd jaguar head juts forward with a humanlike pose of paws on legs, with the legs as front support and the tail as rear support. To capture a greater essence of the wild animal, the frontal husky legs form rattles that contain small balls of clay that when moved simulate the sound of a roaring jaguar. Jaguar-themed ceramics are found in the context of funerary sites and associated with the Mexican warrior god Tezcatlipoca, a powerful and agile fighter who was as fast as a jaguar and devoured the sun to bring the night.