Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Jar with Four Faces

mid-13th–mid-15th century
Mexico, Mesoamerica, Chihuahua
Casas Grandes
H. 8 11/16 in. (22.1 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
Between the mid-thirteenth and mid-fifteenth centuries, the arid region that stretches from northern Mexico to the southwestern United States was dominated by the powerful city of Casas Grandes. Located in what is now the Mexican state of Chihuahua, Casas Grandes was a well planned urban center made wealthy by trade in precious commodities such as shell, copper, turquoise, and tropical bird feathers. The city's craftsmen, skilled in the working of such materials, increased its wealth by making finished products for export. Among those finished products were ceramic vessels with bright polychrome surfaces. The vessels, principally globular jars, were much esteemed and widely traded. In their manufacture, certain more-or-less standardized systems of shape and decoration were followed that included restrained color schemes—chiefly blue/blacks and brown/reds—geometric patterns, and a particularized use of human and animal imagery. Janus-faced jars are among the vessels, some with the same face on each side, others with different faces. The present example has carried the multiple aspect one step further by incorporating the same face four times onto the top circumference of the jar.
McNellis, El Paso, TX, until 1967; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1967, on loan to the Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1967–1978

Related Objects

Painted Vessel in the Form of a Seated Woman

Date: 4th century Medium: Ceramic, slip, pigment Accession: 1979.206.1169 On view in:Not on view

Fish Vessel

Date: 4th century Medium: Ceramic, slip, pigment Accession: 1979.206.1170 On view in:Not on view

Ceramic Painted Vessel

Date: 6th century Medium: Ceramic, slip, pigment Accession: 1979.206.618 On view in:Not on view

Seated Figure

Date: 12th–9th century B.C. Medium: Ceramic, pigment Accession: 1979.206.1134 On view in:Gallery 358

"Smiling" Figure

Date: 7th–8th century Medium: Ceramic Accession: 1979.206.1211 On view in:Gallery 358