Seated Feline


Not on view

Feline imagery is a recurrent theme in Precolumbian art. Large felines such as pumas and jaguars are kings of the animal world in the Andes. Fangs and claws, and their ability to move and strike with lightning speed, make them feared predators. In art, feline imagery was often used to evoke physical strength and supernatural power. This small ceramic sculpture conveys a sense of aggression and force that belies its small size. Seated, the cat shows its fleshy belly while snarling and providing full view of its powerful jaws and pointed fangs. The paws too are shown with claws extended, leaving little doubt that, in spite of its sitting position, this is not a tame, friendly cat. The pendant, somewhat phallic tongue is typical of Tolita feline depictions; it is thought to be associated with virility and masculine power. Although the animal is rendered quite realistically, at least one anthropomorphic aspect is present in its human ears. Red pigment remains on much of the surface.

Seated Feline, Ceramic, post-fire paint, Tolita-Tumaco

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.