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Potosí Appliqué-style Incense Burner: Crocodilian

Location

NICARAGUA, WESTERN REGION

Era

Bagaces or Sapoá Period (300-1350)

Culture

Greater Nicoya

Title

Potosí Appliqué-style Incense Burner: Crocodilian

Date

400-1350

Materials

Earthenware, traces of pigment

Dimensions

31.5 cm (h.), 21.5 cm (diam.)

Credits

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lorne C. Webster, inv. 1974.Ac.22a-b

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

A dangerous, powerful animal, the crocodile is one of the creatures most frequently depicted in the art of the Greater Nicoya region. In some myths, it is also the being that bears the world on its back. Here it is provided with a high crest, adding to its phantasmagorical appearance. The decoration in relief on the body of the vessel probably also alludes to the scutes that cover crocodiles’ backs. During its use, smoke would escape from the holes in the sculpted figure, thus reinforcing its supernatural appearance and perhaps connecting it with volcanoes. Indeed, a number of incense burners of this type have been found on the slopes of the volcano on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua.

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