by Steven R. Cooper
Originally Published in the Central States Archaeological Journal, Vol.55, No.4, pg.236
The full bodied effigy vessels produced by the Caddo rank amongst the most rare and most visually appealing of all prehistoric pottery. The jar walls are usually quite thin, and very few have survived intact. They were produced during what is termed the Fulton Aspect of Caddo archaeology, which runs from approximately A.D.1200-1700.
The Caddo were a clan based society, and the various animals may be representations of clans. Most are water bottles with an opening in the top. The bears are the most lifelike of all of the animals represented. Turtles often appear faceless, with just tiny marks for eyes. Frogs, fish and birds are other creatures utilized. Quite a few of these vessels appear to be abstract creations with odd combinations of animals, man and mythological creatures. Some have rattles.
Closely associated with these effigy vessels are Fulton Aspect Rattle Bowls and Noded Bowls. These very odd creations usually have four main nodes which are hollow and contain pebbles, producing a loud rattling sound when shaken. Some have the addition of tiny nodes stuck on the surface and other forms of appliqué. Many times the bowls have remnants of red ocre in them, suggesting a possible ceremonial use.
Finally, there are the Fulton Aspect Effigy Bowls, which are similar to the Mississippian cat-Serpents. Usually some sort of bird is attached to one side of the bowl, and opposite are attached figurines of animals and human beings, standing or sitting on platforms. Rarely human heads are seen, unlike many Mississippian bowls.
These unusual and artful creations represent the finest level of Caddoan achievement in the ceramic arts.
Above are two Caddo Fulton Aspect Bear Effigy Vessels. Both were found together in the 1960’s near Little Rock, Arkansas. These both have extremely thin jar walls. They are both in exceptional condition, with well-defined facial features and a very similar appearance. It is very possible the same artisan made them.
“Used by Permission of the Author”
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