Papagayo Polychrome style
About A.D. 800–1250
Nicaragua (reportedly found at La Guinea, Guanacaste, Costa Rica)
Earthenware with colored slips
Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 1995.827
The form of this vessel, an elongated oval atop a shallow pedestal, is exceptionally elegant. The slip-painted decoration, too, is beautifully executed, with bright colors and smooth, even lines. The design is organized into horizontal registers of geometric and symbolic motifs. A deep register on the lower vessel is decorated with a series of vertical feathers: each has a white base, a black shaft, and an orange tip.
Scientific research on ceramic pastes has demonstrated that white-slipped wares like Papagayo Polychrome were produced in the Rivas region of Nicaragua. These ceramics were transported south in considerable quantities into what is now Costa Rica, where they were deposited in graves as prized burial offerings. Locally made imitations of Rivas pottery have dull, salmon-colored base coats, and must have been considered poor substitutes.