What would this have been used to hold? Or, is it purely decorative?
This Effigy Vessel by a Jama Coaque artist would have been used in a ritual context. Most excavated vessels come from burials. While it may have held offerings, it would have been used in such a way during rituals.
The jaguar, here shown as a supernatural being, has powerful connotations throughout Meso- and Central America for its prowess as a hunter. You can find other ritual examples from Costa Rica near by!
What is this creature?
This is a jaguar, which was a powerful symbol throughout Ecuador and neighboring regions. Jaguars were not only powerful predators, but they were seen as animals that could cross all boundaries, as they traveled through water, across land, and into trees, and could see in the dark!
How did the Jaguar Effigy Vessel get to the Brooklyn Museum?
The Jaguar Effigy Vessel was a gift to the museum from Mr. and Mrs. Tessim Zorach in 1988.
Tessim Zorach was a pre-Columbian Ecuadorian art collector who died in 1995. He donated works to a number of museums, including the Met, and the Brooklyn Museum.