Double-chambered bottles were a common vessel form among the Bahía people of coastal Ecuador. The chambers, which were round and squat or tall and slender, as here, were joined at the bottom by a tube and at the top by a strap handle. A single, narrow spout tops one of the chambers, while the other vessel serves as a base for modeled figurative sculptures. On this bottle, two fantastic iguana-like creatures sit side by side at the top, their thick, long tails hanging down the side of the container. The iguanas wear necklaces and head crests; long streamers emerge from their open, fanged mouths; their bodies have dorsal crests and winglike elements projecting on the sides. The dull, bumpy surface of the animals, covered with light green pigment, contrasts with the smooth, burnished finish of the red-slipped chambers. The hollow iguanas function as whistles, their several holes producing a sound when the liquid in the bottle is poured out. Iguanas or dragonlike creatures and serpents are frequent motifs in Bahía art and seem to have played an important role in local mythology.
Artist:Bernard Palissy (French, Agen, Lot-et-Garonne 1510–1590 Paris) and workshop Date:probably 1556–67Medium:Earthenware with colorless and transparent or opaque pigmented green, purple, blue, yellow, red-brown, and black lead glazes.Accession:1975.1.1620On view in:Gallery 951