Jaguar effigy tripod vessel - ROM2019_17478_37


Jaguar effigy tripod vessel

Geography: Diquis zone, Costa Rica
Date: AD 1000-1350
10.5 × 13.5 × 9.5 cm
Object number: 2018.11.4
Credit Line: Gift of Philip and Marian Brady
Not on view

The motifs of this vessel suggest that it was used to hold hallucinogenic substances for shaman-leaders to consume.  In ancient Costa Rica and elsewhere in ancient Central America, the jaguar was the most prestigious alter ego to which a human could aspire. They were the sun devouring god; the largest and strongest spotted cats in the Americas. Nocturnal, ferocious, and adapted to inhabit both tree and land, they were deities who could seamlessly transition between the ground-dwelling mortals and the divine gods. Jaguars were therefore creatures of profound influence on Pre-Columbian art. This vessel may have been a personal possession of an esteemed shaman who, however fleetingly, took on the qualities of this majestic animal.

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