This example represents a very rare type of Veracruz figural pottery from ancient Mexico, circa 466 A.D.  These types (whistle vessels) are well known and documented from South American cultures, but are not common amongst Mexico/Central American Pre-Columbian Cultures. Whistle vessels like this one were created with a hidden chamber in the front figure, which has a discreet hole in the top of the head for air to pass through. A passageway connects the rear and front (figure) chambers so that when the rear/open chamber in the back is filled with a liquid (or emptied), the vessel whistles (via the hole in the top) as air escapes or fills the front chamber. The effect is impressive, adding an audible dimension to the artistic complexity of the vessel. The piece has also been commented on to resemble pre-classic Maya pieces. In my opinion the piece has a very strong Maya influence.

In this example, the figure is that of the Wind Deity (as noted by the swirling painted decoration and the act of blowing/whistling implied by the figure’s cheeks and extended belly). The wonderfully modeled figure ingeniously features the whistle effect to give the impression that the deity is whistling like the wind as he is blowing it. 

 A similar piece is also commented on (but not pictured) in yet another book, “The Face of Ancient America”, by Parsons, et al. On page 160 & 161, the authors show one of the only other known published examples of this type, which is of this very same style, but shows a group of 3 whistling figures on the vessel instead of only one. The author mentions the rarity of this type by saying: “This complexly modeled ceramic [referring to the three-headed example in that book] is almost unique, although see Von Winning 1968: item 269 for one other very comparable vessel, but with only a single modeled front figure. 

Size: An impressive size at 19″ x 19″

Condition: One rim chip otherwise choice condition

For and identical but much smaller example which we also sold see Hasso Von Winning’s book “Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America”, 1968. 



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