Bat Effigy Vessel

SKU PF.4343

300 AD to 500 AD


13″ (33.0cm) high




Costa Rica

Gallery Location



This vessel belongs to the Guinea incised style most commonly found in Costa Rica. This area is famous for producing some of the most spectacular works of art found anywhere in Meso-America. This figure is a perfect example of the grace, sophistication, and creativity that epitomizes this classification of these art works. In this ceramic sculpture, one can easily observe that the artist has fulfilled the highest degree of execution in the careful modeling, appliquéing and incising of this work. The style of this figure is also reminiscent to that of the Usulutan pottery tradition in the north, famous for their highly burnished, waxy brown – orange finish referred to as plastic decoration. The vessel’s tall upper body splays to a flattened, flaring rim serrated around the edge. The figure’s head is applied to the front of the body, and the figure appears to be flying. It wears a hat, earspools and shoulder and knee ornaments. The lower section of this vessel is modeled as a human figure, with wings outspread to resemble a bat, seated on a flared cutout pedestal. The broad, hollow wings extend from either side of the upper body and terminate in vertical pillars. The entire figure is decorated with intricate geometric incisions. Many questions about this figure remain a mystery, what function was this figure created for, what does the central figure symbolize in the ritualistic art of the Guanacaste-Nicoya zone of Costa Rica, was it originally a piece of yet another larger figure, possibly an incensories, and who used it? – (PF.4343)

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