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Tripod Bowl with Skull

Arts of the Americas

The central image on the interior of this bowl is a vividly animated skull with swirling forms emanating from the mouth and the back of the cranium. The two volutes at the back of the head symbolize blood and connote sacrifice—a theme that is reinforced by the serrated flint knife depicted beneath the skull. The knife’s wavy blade also alludes to blood, and the U-shaped form behind the skull suggests a carrying strap for a trophy head. These visual references to blood and sacrifice, combined with the hollow legs that rattle, suggest that the vessel had a ritual function.
CULTURE Mixteca-Puebla
MEDIUM Ceramic, pigments
  • Possible Place Collected: Veracruz, Mexico
  • DATES 1000–1500
    DIMENSIONS 5 15/16 x 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (15.1 x 26.7 x 26.7 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE Carll H. de Silver Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Painted, tripod bowl. Central area of interior has brown on cream painted skull; edges have brown on cream geometric designs; sides of exterior have black, white, and red geometric designs. Legs of tripod are hollow and contain clay rattles. Condition: good; object was broken into 8 pieces and repaired; some pieces are missing. Original repairs dismantled and re-repaired in June 2004.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Mixteca-Puebla. Tripod Bowl with Skull, 1000–1500. Ceramic, pigments, 5 15/16 x 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (15.1 x 26.7 x 26.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Carll H. de Silver Fund, 64.51.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 64.51.1_side_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE side, 64.51.1_side_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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