The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
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Pre-Columbian Americas
Veracruz, Mexico
Vessel in the Form of a Monkey
Late Classic period, A.D. 800–900
Clay
H. 8 5/8 in. (21.9 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 95.23


This charming vessel may simply represent the spider monkey, an animal which ancient Mesoamericans enjoyed because of its playfulness, or it may refer to a monkey deity, who was the patron of scribes, artists, musicians, and dancers. The liveliness of the vessel is aural as well as visual, for when the monkey is moved, it chatters with the rattling of a pebble or other small object sealed inside it.