A Costa Rican Ceramic Pataky Polychrome Jar, ca. 1000 - 1350 CE
A Costa Rican Ceramic Pataky Polychrome Jar, ca. 1000 - 1350 CE
A Costa Rican Ceramic Pataky Polychrome Jar, ca. 1000 - 1350 CE
A Costa Rican Ceramic Pataky Polychrome Jar, ca. 1000 - 1350 CE

A Costa Rican Ceramic Pataky Polychrome Jar, ca. 1000 - 1350 CE


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Pataky Polychrome ceramics were highly coveted goods in ancient Costa Rica. Manufactured in the Rivas region of Nicaragua, these showy vessels have ovoid or pear-shaped bodies, creamy white slip base coats, and painted decoration in orange-red, black, and gray-brown. Great care was necessary to pack and transport Rivas-made ceramics southward (probably by boat and/or on the backs of human carriers) without damage.

The nearly pristine condition of this jar suggests that it received little active use before being placed in a Costa Rican grave as an offering. Archaeological excavation reveals that Pataky Polychrome jars were usually placed in tombs with another vessel on top serving as a lid ( Guerrero Miranda and Blanco, cited in Abel--Vidor et al. 1987, 257). They probably contained offerings of food or drink for the deceased. The beauty of this vessel can be attributed to the simplicity of its form and to the fluid, sure hand of its painter. This jar invites quiet admiration with its symmetrical form, undecorated central zone, and bands of comparatively simple decoration that may identify a specific social or ethnic group. It is mainly painted in black on the cream ground, with gray-brown and orange-red used as accent colors. A small model head projects from the exterior is an aminal of sorts and in all likelihood, the effigy creature was never intended to depict any natural species but instead represents a supernatural being.

Condition: Repair to the rim, with surface accretions otherwise intact and in very good condition overall.

Dimensions: Height: 13 inches (33 cm)

Provenance: Mirtha Virginia de Perea (1929 - 2019) private collection of Costa Rican art. Mrs. de Perea spent her entire 48-year career with the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, DC, achieving the rank of Cultural Minister-Counselor and Consul after having started as a secretary. She was a devoted patron of the arts, promoting numerous local artists and sponsoring many cultural events throughout her career. She also amassed an impressive collection of Latin American art. After retiring in 1999, she became a US citizen and continued her support of the arts through her membership in the Women’s Committee of the Washington National Opera and other local groups.

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