An exceedingly rare type of Pre-Columbian Mixtec effigy rattle vessel from ancient Mexico, circa 1200 – 1350 A.D. Measures approximately 6 7/8” tall by about 5 ½” deep. The form of the vessel was painstakingly crafted by the ancient artisan as a highly detailed, well-modeled, three-dimensional effigy of the ancient Mexican deity Huehuecoyotl. This deity was known for being a “trickster” and “prankster”, associated with musicians, music, dance, etc. (which correlates to the fact that it is also a rattle).
The form shows Huehuecoyotl as a lean figure, with ribs and backbone showing, tail extending up his back, crouching as if ready to spring up and leap forward, implying the sensation of lifelike stored energy in the subject. The legs also contain a rattle feature, which implies the vessel was likely intended for ritual use.
Importantly, significant amounts of the original stucco coating and delicate decorating remains- including strong remnants of a quatrefoil medallion of applied gold on the deity’s chest. Gold decoration on Pre-Columbian vessels is an exceedingly RARE feature, and would have required a very skilled ancient artisan. Other elaborate Mixtec decorative designs and details of Hhuehuecoyotl’s body remain visible in the remaining stucco, revealing that this vessel would have been profusely detailed and decorated with distinctive Mixtec iconography.
Condition: Intact and in original condition overall, with a small portion of the bottom left figure’s foot reattached. Otherwise, typical loss to much of the original stucco coating and decoration, with remnants of exceedingly rare gold decoration remaining on the chest. Mineral deposits, minor abrasions, weathering and wear all speak volumes as to the authenticity and age of this vessel.
Provenance: Former Bradenton, Florida, USA private collection. Before that former Santa Fe, N.M. private collection. Before that, former Laguna Beach, CA collection.
Reference: See page 133 of the book “Rediscovered Masterpieces of Mesoamerica” for an image of a Mixtec “acrobat/clown” vessel that is undeniably of similar form, manufacture and decoration, also showing decorative work in gold that is virtually exclusive to the Mixtec culture of that Pre-Columbian region. Note that this comparable vessel is included in a book of “masterpieces”, emphasizing that the type is rare and special.