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Lot 0093
Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Veracruz, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. A hollow ceramic head with an expressive face: the mouth open in a slight smile with obvious teeth, heavy-lidded, almond-shaped eyes, a pointed, wide nose, and pronounced eyebrows. The figure wears large ear spools of conical form and a tall headdress with a heavy brim. The head would once have been attached to a taller figure, probably one with a full body. The face and ear spools look similar to a sculpture from El Zapotal, an archaeological site south of Veracruz city that consists of a mound covering a shrine dedicated to the Lord of the Underworld, full of life-sized, hollow clay sculptures. That particular sculpture depicts a male with a huge zoomorphic headdress and full body dressed in finery, all made from pottery. Perhaps this head, too, once had those accessories. Size: 4.75" L x 6.5" W x 8.1" H (12.1 cm x 16.5 cm x 20.6 cm)

This figure showcases the distinctive, striking style of ancient Veracruz. Excavations in this coastal region of Mexico have revealed two types of impressive, detailed pottery figures from the Veracruz period: the Sonrientes, the joyous "smiling faces", and figures like this one, more serious, mostly adult figures, with elaborate costumes, themes, and sometimes props that all seem to point towards religious or political ceremonies. These figures are often found with the bodies smashed into pieces and the heads largely intact - they were ritually destroyed as burial offerings. Their clothing suggests that they depict people of import in society, maybe priests or nobility.

Provenance: collection of the late Alfred E. Stendahl, Stendahl Gallery, Los Angeles, California, USA

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#126359

Condition

Repaired from multiple large pieces, with well-done and difficult-to-see repairs. Small loss to lower edge. Nice manganese deposits and root marks on surface.

Buyer's Premium

  • 24.5%

Veracruz Terracotta Head of Elite Person

Estimate $1,600 - $2,400Dec 20, 2017
Louisville, CO, USA