Guanacaste Monkey Effigy Whistle

SKU PF.3122

300 BC to 300 AD


3.75″ (9.5cm) high x 3.375″ (8.6cm) wide




Guanacaste, Nicoya, Costa Rica

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This vessel has been cleverly designed in the shape of a human figure arrayed as a monkey. The relative degree of a “human” or “monkey” seen in this delightful work of art is due to one's own perception. Some may see it as an obviously masked human, while others may see it as a much more ambiguous phenomenon which has monkey and human characteristics. This vessel probably depicts a shaman or chieftain-shaman with a high political and religious status. The monkey may have been chosen as a symbol of strength and nobility among animals. It is also reclusive in nature, a dweller in the high forest canopy and a striking image when glimpsed with its human-like arms, legs and face. The monkey is the closest resembling animal to ourselves, and it is possible that it was viewed as an emissary, the all-knowing “eyes and ears” of the shaman-monkey. Vessels are found in high- status tombs. This suggests use in a ritual context. It is a charming work of art with its small cap adorning its head and its hands on its hips. This special vessel continues to pass on its magic and alluring appeal from ancient hands to the present.

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