The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of March 24, 2018

Lidded Bowl with Iguana, c. 600 - 1100

ceramic, slip, Base: 15.1 x 35 cm (5 15/16 x 13 3/4 in.); Lid: 29.9 x 38 cm (11 3/4 x 14 15/16 in.). Norman O. Stone and Ella A. Stone Memorial Fund 1995.72

At the time of the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, Costa Rican mythology linked iguanas to the sky and to rulers. The earlier makers of this vessel left no written records, but they may have had similar beliefs. The lizard poses as though basking in the sun, a celestial body, and assumes an aggressive stance that could be likened to a ruler's: the teeth and chin under the dewlap are displayed, Also, fine ceramics like this were buried in the graves of the high-status dead, some of them certainly leaders of the several groups that competed in the area.

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