Ovoid Vase

Ovoid Vase

AD 800-1250
Reportedly from the site of La Guinea, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Papagayo Polychrome
Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer
. Ovoid Vase . AD 800-1250. Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer. 1995.827.
This object is currently on view
height: 11 in, 27.9400 cm; width: 5 in, 12.7000 cm
Mayer Center, Art of the Ancient Americas
Art of the Ancient Americas

Ovoid Vase
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.

Known Provenance
Gifted 31 December 1995 by Frederick and Jan Mayer to the Denver Art Museum. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.