Pedestal Bowl with Bat Design

Pedestal Bowl with Bat Design

A.D. 800-1100
Locale
central Panama
Country
Panama
Style/Tradition
Joaquín Polychrome Style
Object
bowl
Medium
Earthenware with colored slips
Accession Number
1984.609
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. M. Larry and Nancy B. Ottis
. Pedestal Bowl with Bat Design. A.D. 800-1100. Earthenware with colored slips. Gift of Dr. M. Larry and Nancy B. Ottis. 1984.609.
Dimensions
height: 5 1/2 in, 13.9700 cm; diameter: 11 3/8 in, 28.8925 cm
Department
Mayer Center, Art of the Ancient Americas
Collection
Art of the Ancient Americas

Pedestal Bowl with Bat Design
Joaquín Polychrome style
About A.D. 800–1100
Central Panama
Earthenware with colored slips
Gift of Dr. M. Larry and Nancy B. Ottis, 1984.609

Ceramic pedestal bowls and plates are common offerings in central Panamanian burials; some probably held food for use in the next world while others may have been used by the living in a funerary feast.  Interiors were often boldly painted in black, red, and purple on a cream-colored ground.  Fierce or dangerous creatures were favorite subject matter: crocodiles, stingrays, sharks, and a supernatural human/reptilian being commonly dubbed “the crocodile god.”  The two bats on this bowl are painted with outspread wings, staring eyes, and open mouths.  Vampire bats are native to Central America and appear frequently in the art of ancient Costa Rica, probably symbolizing stealthy, nighttime human raiders.  The painted bats on this bowl, however, lack distinctive features that securely identify them as vampire bats.  Possibly they represent fruit bats, whose nocturnal habits and fruit-eating diet made them avatars of headhunting.