Home > Art > Costa Rican Vessel with Two Canine Head Effigies
About the Object
Carved, polished, and hollowed out at the top out of the original black jade by the unknown Costa Rican artist(s), this work was eventually shaped into a rounded vessel. Perhaps the most striking feature of this jade work is the double-headed canine effigy, or sculpture, that has been carved with deep eyes and slightly open mouths. The two drilled holes at the top may indicate that the work was suspended or worn with two pieces of string or material. This may mean that the material carried within this object was associated with important rituals.
Throughout Mesoamerica and what is today Central America, jade and dogs were connected with cycles of life and death. Though dogs were occasionally raised for food, people also believed dogs accompany individuals when entering the afterlife. This may connect the work to mortuary practices or settings, or may have been used in fertility rituals associated with agricultural events.