April 23, 2015: Zapotec Effigy Vessel of Cocijo
Oaxaca, Southern Mexico
Classic Period C.A. 100-950 CE
28.5 x 21.5 x 12 cm
Ceramic effigy vessels such as this one were used to hold food and drink for the ancestors and often depicted seated figures, in this case the god Cocijo. Cocijo’s name was synonymous with lightning, appropriate for a deity of thunder and rain. He was the chief deity of the agricultural Zapotec, whom cultivated crops such as maize, beans, squash, and chili, and whom engineered sophisticated irrigation canals and terraces by the late Preclassic Period (circa 600 BC - 200 CE). Usually depicted as a formal deity with a jaguar-like snout and a serpent’s tongue, Cocijo was also an embodiment of lightning and a spiritual state that priests might transform into during ritual.