Pre-Columbian, Gulf Coast Mexico, Vera Cruz, Remojadas style, ca. 550 to 950 CE. An outstanding example of a mold-made terracotta Sonriente (smiling face), the most well-known of Remojadas figures, with wonderful red-painted, applied, and incised details. The figure features a traditional wide smile revealing filed teeth on a characteristically quasi-triangular shaped face, a face that is remarkably naturalistic in other respects (i.e. those skillfully contoured facial planes that actually read as 'flesh', and those soft, billowy eyelids) attached to a child-like body with outstretched, raised arms and out-turned hands displaying palms. This is a male Sonriente, nude except for a fancy beaded pectoral, round ear ornaments, red anklets decorated with white circular depressions, as well as a grand headdress adorned with glyph-like emblems and a rope-like border in relief against a red ground and further adorned red decorative bands around his neck and thighs. Custom stand. Size: 9.75" W x 17.125" H (24.8 cm x 43.5 cm); 17.375" H (44.1 cm) on included custom stand.
Sonrientes are rare in Mesoamerican art and scholars suggest that they played a special role in Remojadas society due to their rarity. Why that smile? Well some scholars believe that it was hallucinogenically produced perhaps by ingesting alcoholic pulque, while others including Miller and Taube suggest that the smiling figures were actually performers. (See Miller and Taube , The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames and Hudson, 1993, p. 10.)
Provenance: private Healy collection, Studio City, California, USA, acquired over the last twenty years
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