Dominican Republic; Taino
Ceramic; Diam. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Purchase, Mary R. Morgan, Mary O'Boyle II and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick E. Landmann Gifts;
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller and Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, by exchange, and Gift of Nathan Cummings, by exchange, 1982 (1982.48.3)
The Taino people of the islands of the Greater Antilles, which include Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica, made highly distinctive ceramic vessels during Precolumbian times. Fabricated of matte-surfaced fired clay with a minimum of decoration, Taino ceramics are pleasingly spontaneous in the finished product. Bowls are many and come in shapes that range from open, shallow examples, such as this, to deep vessels with almost closed-off tops. Decorative and/or symbolic elaboration appears on the upper portion of the vessel, where it is often incised, or on the rim, where it takes three-dimensional form. Characteristically, whether the bowl is deep or shallow, pairs of "handles" are present on either side of the top. The handles here are modeled in the shape of the bat heads that peer over the edge of the bowl and hands that grip the edge. Associated with night, darkness, and death, bats frequently appear in Taino art.