Pre-Columbian, Gulf Coast of Mexico, Veracruz culture, ca. 500 to 700 CE. A fabulous ceramic figure of a standing woman, dressed in a skirt and elaborate belt, with a huge pectoral / necklace hanging down between her breasts. Atop her head is an enormous feathered headdress that seems to be part of a fiercely-toothed animal's skull - probably a caiman or similar beast. The snout is curled upward to touch the top of the headdress, with large eyes on either side of it and the mouth full of sharp teeth stretched across the figure's hairline. The classic thick black color, chapapote, that is common to Veracruz artwork and is made from petroleum-rich deposits, has been used to provide decoration on the anklets, eyes, mouth, and headdress. Size: 8.5" W x 11.25" H (21.6 cm x 28.6 cm)
Excavations near the modern Mexican town of Remojadas 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: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex Dr. George Wald, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA collection, acquired in the 1960s
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