214 – Gran Coclé Mandala

Gran Cocle Pedestal Dish - The Walters Art Museum
Gran Cocle Pedestal Dish – The Walters Art Museum
AD 600-800 – earthenware, slip paint -H: 6 x Diam: 10 7/8 in. (15.24 x 27.69 cm)

What a provocative piece of ancient earthenware from Gran Coclé in Panama. I love how instead of having the symmetry go around the circle, the symmetry is a mirror: top and bottom, and within each half, the mirror symmetry continues with the winged being.

From the Gran Coclé wikipedia page:

Gran Coclé is an archaeological culture area of the so-called Intermediate Area in pre-Columbian Central America. The area largely coincides with the modern-day Panamanian province of Coclé, and consisted of a number of identifiable native cultures.

Side View of Gran Cocle Pedestal Dish - The Walters Art Museum
Side View of Gran Cocle Pedestal Dish
The Walters Art Museum

About this piece from The Walters Art Museum page:

Binary opposition is a central precept of ancient Panamanian cosmology, which viewed the cosmos as the pairing of opposites: male-female, light-dark, spirit world-natural world. The universe was composed of three levels-the upper sphere, the middle sphere, and the lower sphere. …the dynamic imagery that characterizes the Conté and Marcaracas pottery styles is cognitive in its intent and likely reflects fundamental principles of indigenous religious beliefs and cosmology. The pedestal dish is decorated with a bilaterally symmetrical portrayal of a shaman in magical flight. Having taken his animal spirit form, here a bat, the shaman’s ability to traverse the cosmic realms is implied by his portrayal in mirror image. Only a hint of the shaman’s human self remains in his face; otherwise the transformation into a bat is complete with outstretched, featherless wings, and sinuous clawed feet.

This powerful piece inspires me to figure out how to make three dimensional mandalas.

Happy Coloring!

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