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Colima Spiked Incensario, Pre-Columbian West Mexico

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All Items: Antiques: Regional Art: Americas: Pre Columbian: Pottery: Pre AD 1000: item # 1162201


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Colima Spiked Incensario, Pre-Columbian West Mexico
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A Colima spiked incensario from Pre-Columbian West Mexico, circa 300 B.C. – 300 A.D. This large, rare Colima incensario (incense burner) measures nearly 10” tall by about 11” wide at its widest points. It features well-formed spikes, sometimes referred to as hobnails, covering its exterior. This is a feature perhaps symbolic of the spike-covered surface of the Ceiba tree (or a related regional variety), which likely had ideological significance.

There is some scholarly debate as to how these items were oriented for use. In function, the wide footed base could have acted as a domed enclosure for the burning of incense beneath, with the narrow opening around the base allowing sufficient airflow to keep the material smoldering. The slender neck forms a smaller, separate vessel area accessible from the opening at the top. This may have served as a secondary area for burning incense or some other offering, and could also have been warmed from the burning coals and/or incense beneath.

Such objects are well documented from various cultures of ancient Mexico and Mesoamerica, and are believed to have been used for making offerings of burning incense at ancestral shrines and in other religious, ceremonial, and/or ritual contexts.

Condition: In remarkable original condition with no restoration, with only one of the feet re-glued in place from a clean break. Only a few of the spikes are missing on the bottom edge of one side. The exterior surface shows remnants of heavy white stucco covering, while the interior of the top and bottom show evidence of ancient offerings and use. The smaller top vessel area has a build-up of sediment and/or remnants of offering material encrusted in the bottom. Heavy root marks and mineral deposits remain inside and out, evidence of thousands of years of burial. Otherwise, expected weathering, wear and abrasions overall.

Provenance: Former Lynn Langdon collection, USA. Collected pre-1970.

Reference: See “Sculpture of Ancient West Mexico: Catalog of the Proctor Stafford Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art”, page 174, illustration 201, for another example of this known type of Colima vessel.



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