ANIMAL ART OF THE DAY for National Iguana Awareness Day

Lidded Bowl with Iguana
c. 600–1100 (Thermoluminescence date, 995–1395)
Costa Rica, Southern Nicoya region
ceramic, slip
Cleveland Museum of Art

It is believed the iguana’s regional symbolism was linked to both rulership and the solar realm, and here we see the iguana is portrayed as if basking in the sun, but also with an aggressive stance of bared teeth and fully fanned dewlap.

Even though it is a stylized rendering, the maker still included enough real-life details to allow us to identify it as a male Green Iguana (Iguana iguana). The single large round scale, called a subtympanic plate/shield, is a feature unique to this species, and the enlarged dewlap and jowl are typical of the male.

Male Green Iguana (Iguana iguana). As seen here, the common name is a bit of a misnomer, as they come in a variety of colors!

More information on this interesting iguana bowl, including additional view photos and a trio of short interpretive videos, can be found on its official online collection page:

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