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Lot 161, Auction 7/5/2018: Lovely Mixtec Pottery Tripod Rattle Bowl

Pre-Columbian, modern day Mexico, Post Classic Maya, Mixtec, ca. 1200 to 1500 CE. A charming shallow bowl standing on three splayed legs. Inside the body are materials to give the vessel a rattling sound when shaken. The interior of the bowl has dense, geometric and zoomorphic - probably avian - red, orange, and white iconography, while the exterior is more simply decorated with red covering the legs and rim and white linear highlights. In a register around the rim are wave, spiral, and step-like symbols that may be hieroglyphic. In the enter is a cross-shaped creature with what appears to be feathers. Size: 7.95" W x 3.95" H (20.2 cm x 10 cm)

Mixtec glyphs are known from surviving manuscripts, the Mixtec codices, that list the genealogical histories of ruling dynasties. Similar glyph-like symbols are used in Mixtec pottery. This is interesting because the glyphs on codices could only be read by a small number of people in the society but polychrome vessels like this one were intended to be used by everyone. At excavations in this region, in fact, we have found more polychrome pottery in commoner's residences than in elite ones - particularly ones like this, with glyph-like motifs. Their meaning remains a source of mystery, and research, for archaeologists.

Condition: Stabilized crack on one side of bowl. Bright pigment remaining over entire surface.

Provenance: private San Francisco, California, USA collection

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