Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Colima, Pihuamo style, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. A mesmerizing hand-built terracotta vessel depicting a male cargador - a carrier figure holding a burden, leaning forward with hands wresting upon upraised knees, and an expressive visage that communicates just how much effort it takes to carry his heavy load. Notice the tumpline over his incised fringe of bangs and leading to that meticulously delineated pack on his back, and take a close look at his mouth; this fellow is actually gritting his teeth, a sure sign that he is working hard! Although mostly nude, he is extensively adorned by protruding shoulder pellets and incised, crosshatched armbands, a loin cloth, and large earspools. A stupendous example, nicely burnished and displaying wonderful areas of manganese deposits. Size: 8" L x 11.125" W x 13.875" H (20.3 cm x 28.3 cm x 35.2 cm)
A noble ceramic representation of the humblest member of Pre-Columbian societies, the cargador or burden bearer who carries wares on his back. The worker has always been upheld as an honorable contributor in Pre-Columbian societies, so much so that by the early 20th century, these carriers would be romanticized by Mexican Modernists who introduced the concept of indigenismo, a philosophy that honored the native cultures of their land. Chief among them was Diego Rivera whose infamous painting "The Flower Carrier" (1935, SFMOMA collection), a work that is essentially a tribute to not only the flower carrier but all cargadores, is a cherished emblem of indigenous culture. Load bearers in general provided a pivotal service to their communities, because the wheel was not yet used on vehicles to transport burdens. Curiously archaeologists, in their investigations, have only found wheels attached to miniature objects that resemble toys.
Provenance: private Florida, USA collection acquired in the 1990's at Messick Fine Art Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
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