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Parrot Effigy Vessel (work of art)

Artwork Info

Unknown Colima Artist (West Mexican, Colima state)
circa 200 B.C.E.–300 C.E.
7 1/4 x 6 x 9 1/2 inches (18.4 x 15.2 x 24.1 centimeters)

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • In ancient American societies, birds were powerful symbols that represented the realm of the sky. 
  • It is possible that this vessel was used to hold offerings to deceased individuals. Vessels that held offerings to the dead often included earthenware sculptures of people, plants, and animals.

Learn More

This vessel is modeled in the shape of a parrot, whose tail feathers are fashioned into a functional spout. The parrot has symbolic meaning in ancient American art. In West Mexico tradition, for example, parrots represent fire and the sun due to their brightly colored feathers.

tags: bird, symbolism

Additional Resources

Resources for Teachers

  • Compare our Parrot Effigy to this Bird Effigy Vessel from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Discover how climate change is affecting the birds of modern-day Colima.


Resources for Students

  • Learn more about the 22 species of parrots from Mexico and the risks they face from the illegal parrot trade.
  • Find out about the Colima state in western Mexico.


  • A ceramic sculpture of a parrot.

    Parrot Effigy Vessel by

Related Concepts


Gift in memory of Dr. Franz Ebstein and Paul R. Villard