Pre-Columbian, Veracruz, ca. 100 BCE to 800 CE. This is a pottery standing "Sonriente" male figural whistle/rattle from the Veracruz region of Gulf Coast Mexico. He stands with one hand on his hip and one hand raised as if in greeting; he wears a long, decorated skirt and a large headdress, as well as a necklace and earrings. The face is smiling in the classic Sonriente style. When first made, this piece would have been painted brightly. Sonrientes, or "smiling faces", are the most famous pottery from this period in Veracruz (known as Remojadas for its keystone archaeological site). Like this one, they depict wide, smiling, childlike faces, often with teeth showing. This figure also wears the traditional jewelry, including what appear to be delicately carved cowrie shell anklets around his ankles; this is interesting because cowrie shells are a Pacific coast product and so would have had to be traded to arrive in the Veracruz region. He wears a pectoral and large, circular earrings. Atop his head is an elaborate headdress with glyph-like geometric symbols. Smiling faces are very rare in Mesoamerican art, but in Remojadas and the surrounding area, there are thousands of these Sonrientes figures, leading to a mystery for archaeologists. Some have suggested that the smiles are the result of consuming the alcoholic beverage pulque, or taking hallucinogenic drugs; others see them as representing performers. Comes with custom stand. Size: 4.3" W x 8" H (10.9 cm x 20.3 cm)
Provenance: ex-Joey Hartley, GA collection
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