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Artist/Maker: Gran Coclé (Panama)

Date: ca. 700-850
Medium: pottery and slip paint
Overall: 1 5/8 x 7 1/8 in. (4.1 x 18.1 cm)
Classification: Containers
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Object number: 89.0081
DescriptionThis Gran Coclé period plate depicts a crab using a polychrome palette of red, black, white, and purple paint. The use of purple in the design may indicate the dish belongs to the Conte style, as the Conte introduced the use of purple pigments on ceramics. Ancient Panamanians were known for using these same colors for elaborate body paint. Also indicative of the Conte style is the accurate taxonomic depiction of the crab. Between the crab’s bottom claws is an egg sack, an iconographic detail that comes only with familiarity and close contact with the animal. The use of red and black is symbolic of duality, conceivably signifying the powers of creation versus the forces of destruction.
Not on view