Skip to main content

Peccary Effigy Jar (work of art)

Artwork Info

circa 1000–1550
Costa Rican (Guanacaste or Diquis Region)
height, width, and depth:
5 3/8 x 12 x 6 1/8 inches (13.7 x 30.5 x 15.6 centimeters)
diameter (rim):
5 1/4 inches (13.3 centimeters)


Gift of Dr. Clifton F. Mountain and Mrs. Marilyn T. Mountain

Ancient American

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • This vessel or ceramic cup depicts a peccary, a small, pig-like animal found throughout Central and South America. The artist used black and red lines to create geometric patterns on the vessel.
  • Two front legs and a head are added to the bottom of the vessel to create the animal form. It would appear to be balancing upside down when placed on a surface or held upright.
  • It is possible that this vessel could have been used as an offering to deceased individuals. These types of offerings often included earthenware sculptures of people, plants, and animals.
  • The use of the peccary for this effigy jar likely represented the importance it had to the individuals in ancient times and the ecosystem at the time.

Learn More

Ancient Costa Rican and Nicaraguan ceramic artists excelled in combining traditional jar forms with those of animals. This object was modeled to represent a peccary, a small animal related to the pig, common to the Central American lowlands. Note the peccary’s characteristically long and slightly curled nose. The artist cleverly positioned its front legs to form two supports, so that it seems to balance upside down like an acrobat.

tags: symmetry, shape, environment, function, observation, pattern

Additional Resources

Resources for Teachers


Resources for Students


  • A drinking vessel with the head and front legs of a pig-like animal.

    Peccary Effigy Jar by Unknown Costa Rican Artist