will make a clay animal effigy vessel based on animals that are symbolic
in ancient Mesoamerican cultures.
function of effigy vessels in Mesoamerican Ballgame ritual art.
- Use the
website to gain information about effigy vessels associated with the
animal symbol from chart and create an effigy vessel using raku clay.
Painted or incised imagery often begins as contour line drawing
on the body of the pot and is completed three dimensionally on the
lid where a head or wings becomes a handle.
Color is generally red oxide, yellow oxide, or black applied with
a soft (Chinese bristle style) brush in lines of equal width.
Building techniques use coil and slab techniques in combination with
additive and subtractive methods. (School and Miller. 1986)
Curriculum connections (Grades 3-5):
Arts National Standards (and NC) - Grades 3-5:
3: 4.01, 4.04, 4.06. Goal 4: 5.01, 5.03
Social Studies Grade 5: Goals 1.1, 2.1, 4.1, 6.1, 12.2
Science - Grade 4: Goals 1.01, 1.02
Language art - Grade 3: Goals 1.04, 2.03, 2.04, 3.01, 4.02
of images of three Effigy
Vessels used in the Ballgame web site (print from web site.)
of chart of Animal
Symbolism (print from web site.)
- Raku clay
or coarse low fire clay
or mason stain colorants
flat spoons for paddles
tools, plastic forks and knives for scoring
- Slip for
TERMS: effigy, ceramic censor, tripod, offertory vessel, symbol
oxides, raku, slip joining, score, paddling, convex, concave, burnish,
scriffito, leather hand
Two 45-min periods to build and sculpt. One 45 min period to apply
the use of three effigy forms in Mesoamerican art. (See Effigy
computer time for students to view effigy vessels on the web site.
the construction of a sculptural form using double pinch pot as belly
of animal and carving techniques for head component.
- Have students
select animal form and draw a design. (See Animal
Symbolism chart.) (See Team Mascots section of "Uniform" page in
with two small wedged balls of clay of equal size (approximately tennis
clay by compressing with palm of the hand into a ball.
- Open the
center of each ball by pressing with thumb. 1/4"
from bottom of ball form, press
slowly with even pressure between thumb and forefinger.
moving slowly clockwise around at center point until the circumference
is equally 1/4" thick.
- Move up
the side 1/4" and repeat the process.
up the wall sequentially until the vessel is equally thick.
first pinch vessel to the side.
- Open second
vessel in the same manner. Check to be sure that each vessel is the
same height and diameter.
- To join
the vessels, score the lip of each vessel and place clay slip on each
one of the vessels and attach it to the other.
- Pull clay
across the seam joint so that the seam in covered.
work the clay from each side across the seam.
the clay surface with the thumb using gentle pressure.
with flat wooden spoon and lightly tap the vessel into the desired shape.
paddling and pressure with the thumb to make convex
changes in the form.
- Work slowly
and gently. Check regularly to be certain that there are no cracks for
air to leak. The volume of trapped air will keep the form from collapsing
as you shape the form.
- Set this
form aside while you make your animal likeness. Shape the head, snout,
legs, tail or other parts that you plan to use on your vessel.
- Use pinch,
coil, and slab methods as you build.
the stance your animal will take.
and slip join the head, legs, tail, or wings.
secure joint by grafting clay across seam.
- When you
have completed your animal effigy make an opening for air to escape
during firing. Design this opening to function as part of the animal
for example mouth opening, nostrils. etc.
- Be sure
to make holes 25% larger than you think necessary to take care of shrinkage
during the drying and firing.
- Let vessel
dry to almost leather hard.
- Use carving
tools to refine the form.
- Use scriffito
techniques for creating texture.
slip colorants or mason stains. Set aside to dry.
- When bone
dry, bisque fire ware.
- Pit fire
for ancient look.
will look for animal tales in the Maya oral tradition, especially rabbit,
jaguar and coyote. They can find parallel stories in African and Native
American oral traditions.
will explore rainforest, coastal plain and mountain environments and the
animal habitats in these three regions by Mesoamerica.
Closure for Unit:
use of effigy vessels in ballgame rituals.
ceramic techniques: coil, slab, pinch, color application, scriffito,
Sport of Life & Death: The Mesoamerican Ballgame
A traveling exhibition sponsored by the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte,