Two Flat Stamps

Date: 1st–7th century

Geography: Costa Rica

Culture: Atlantic Watershed

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 1 15/32 x W. 2 3/32 in. (3.7 x 5.3 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Implements

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.206.1181,.1183


Ceramic stamps are found in Costa Rican burials, suggesting that their importance extended beyond utilitarian. There has been much speculation with regard to the material that these stamps were intended to imprint, including textiles and the human body. This last theory is reinforced by the presence of stamp motifs on Costa Rican ceramic figure sculpture. The designs of the stamps can be divided into two categories, those that mimic the geometricity of textile structure and those that do not. The frog stamp, with the angular lines of an amphibian, falls into the category of textile imagery, whereas the more fluid depiction of the serpent is derived from a more naturalistic source.