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A CORN GODDESS and HER NECKLACE

The ceramists of the Mississippian Period, AD 1000-1700, made a variety of vessels, most of which were plain and simple utilitarian cooking and serving pots and bowls.  Some effigy pottery was made and among the more common of these are the ones apparently made to honor the Corn God (also known as the Corn Mother and Goddess of the Harvest) and often in the hooded waterbottle form.  Even rarer in this class of vessels are the few that encompass more than the simple maize deity motif – such as this Corn Goddess and Her Necklace.

Corn was the main sustenance of the natives during much of this time period and they did make various effigies of the mythological female immortal that provided them with the maize.  Many of these took the form of the hooded bottle meaning that the orifice or pouring spout of the pot was on the side slightly below the vessel apex while the opposite side contained a face of some type, be it human, deity, fish, bird or land animal, or maybe it was simply blank.  No one, today, knows just why the native potters chose this odd form to make vessels but among the rare effigy pots, these hooded bottles are among the more common, especially in the corn god form.  These maize effigy bottles usually feature a rounded or globular vessel topped with a cone.  The cone normally had four to six vertical appliqués which are theorized to have been representations of corn kernel rows.  These cones generally included two eyes and often a mouth and that, along with the maize kernels, completed the corn god features.  But a more rare few had more embellishments.

This corn god effigy vessel takes the form of the hooded bottle with the typical conical top stylized with four corn kernel rows and two bulging eyes on the deity head.  But just below the cone head is a necklace encircling the vessel.  What this symbolizes could only be a guess since it could have been meant to represent large marine shell beads called knobbies or perhaps it was a depiction freshwater mussel pearls.  The necklace could be a simulation of ceramic or even rare stone beads or if the vessel was made late (AD 1700+), it could be a copy of European glass trade beads.  The entire hooded bottle is six and one-eighth inches tall by four and three-quarters inches in diameter and is made of grey polished and shell tempered Bell Plain ceramics and was probably made in the AD 1400-1700 time period though it could have been made later if the necklace portrays trade beads. It was found in Mississippi County, Arkansas and even though it is a reasonably rare effigy vessel, it would be considered somewhat common as a simple hooded bottle.  But the stylized jewelry places it in a much more unique form.  In researching this article, the writer could fine very few references to hooded corn god bottles with a necklace but most likely more do exist.  Whether it was made as a one of a very few or if many more were manufactured, it still stands alone in symmetry and beauty – this Corn Goddess and Her Necklace.

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

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Hathcock, Roy                                                                                    1976

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Maus, James E.                                                                       1999

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Maus, James E.                                                                       2010

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Morse, Dan. F. & Phyllis A. Morse                                        1983

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Westbrook, Kent. C.                                                               1982

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