Colima, Mexico, Jar with Parrot Feet

Colima, Mexico 

Jar with Parrot Feet, c. 3rd century BC – 4th century 

molded and hand-built ceramic with burnished red slip 

Purchase, 1957 (2294.1) 

The Colima people, named for the state of Colima in west Mexico, buried their dead in deep shaft-tombs accompanied by sculptural ceramic vessels in the form of human figures and flora/fauna of the natural world. The surfaces were covered with red slip (a watery clay suspension) and burnished by rubbing with a smooth stone or shell before firing to give a shiny surface. These two Colima objects demonstrate the delightful, elegant sense of design and the excellent skill of Colima artists. The vertical ridges of the squash vessel have been rendered in a minimalist way, making the body a collection of abstract ridges and curves. It is supported by three upright parrots which balance on their tail feathers; these were probably made in a mold and applied to the vessel.