ART FROM ANCIENT LANDS

Atlantic Watershed Basalt Sculpture of a Jaguar - PF.3038
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 100 AD to 500 AD
Dimensions: 23" (58.4cm) high x 26" (66.0cm) wide
Catalogue: V20
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Atlantic Watershed
Medium: Basalt

The power of this extraordinary stone sculpture of a jaguar holding a small human with feline qualities in the paws undoubtedly has a strong impact on the viewers' senses. The ancient sculpture emanates absolute prowess, which displays god-like power and status. The well-defined jaguar confronts the viewers with large open mouth, revealing a pair of fangs that is a potential fatal weapon. Like the bodies and garments of kings and gods of ancient worlds were adorned with intricate patterns and jewels, the body of the jaguar is enhanced with detailed, decorative patterns. The jaguar firmly holds a small, fragile human-feline in the paws, like a god holding the destiny and fate of human beings. In ancient Costa Rica, jaguars, which ruled the ground of harsh jungle, were considered as one of the most important and powerful gods. Perhaps Costa Ricans who believed in their humble position felt that their welfare was in the hands of their mighty god, shown by the fragile human-feline holding onto the jaguar's tail. Or perhaps this seemingly ferocious jaguar is protecting the frail human, growling at any outsiders that might impose threat or harm. As a parent feline would care for its young by carrying the baby in the mouth, maybe the jaguar god is mercifully protecting the human with feline qualities, warding off harm by displaying its lethal fangs. Although there are numerous ways of interpreting this extraordinary sculpture, the imposing power and regal stature of the basalt jaguar is clear. Such powerful and regal essence which once filled the ancient world of Costa Rica remains just as strong in our modern world. - (PF.3038)

 

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