Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Nayarit, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. A seated pottery figure of a mother with a tiny child on her lap. Original cream and black pigment remain on the figure. The mother wears a nose ring, earrings, armbands, and a skirt, as well as some kind of rounded headdress; the baby wears a matching headdress, earrings, and nose ring. Size: 5.5" W x 7.5" H (14 cm x 19 cm)
Clay figures like this one are the only remains that we have today of a sophisticated and unique culture in West Mexico -- they made no above-ground monuments or sculptures, at least that we know of, which is in strong contrast to developments elsewhere in ancient Mesoamerica. Instead, their tombs were their lasting works of art: skeletons arrayed radially with their feet positioned inward, and clay offerings, like this one, placed alongside the walls facing inward, near the skulls. Some scholars have connected these dynamic sculptures of the living as a strong contrast to the skeletal remains whose space they shared, as if they mediated between the living and the dead.
Provenance: Ex-Peter Arnovick collection, San Francisco, CA
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