Museum Collections - Mesoamerica - Zapotec - Artifact #1

Ceramic figure with head of a bat - Zapotec

WHO: Zapotec culture

WHERE: Oaxaca, Mexico

WHEN: Classic Period, Monte Albán IIIb, A.D. 550-750

WHAT:The creature on this urn has the head of a bat and a human-like body. Urns like these did not contain human ashes, but were made to be buried with the elite in elaborate tombs.

Bats, as well as jaguars, were central animals to the Zapotec and they symbolized mighty underworld (land of the dead) powers. In a religious context, it was believed that the bat was a fierce creature known for biting the heads off of their adversaries. For this reason, the bat became a symbol for Zapotec leadership.
Height: 40cm

HOW: Coil-built grey earthenware with hand-modelled elements; traces of red pigment

MUSEUM: Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. G83.1.91

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