Pre-Columbian, Peru, Chancay, ca. 800 to 1200 CE. A hollow-molded terracotta Cuchimilco with raised arms and a boldly painted face mask of chocolate brown markings as well as a headband and chin strap with intricate patterns. The figure represents a female, as her body bears low relief nipples and an incised line indicating her clitoris. The headress is perforated for the addition of feathers or other organic adornments, now long gone. Size: 19.75" L x 10" W (50.2 cm x 25.4 cm); 20.125" H (51.1 cm) on included custom stand.
Such large Chancay figures are usually female. They characteristically possess a simplified body, small vestigial arms raised to the sides in a prayerful gesture and a flattened face with markings on their chin and brow and a decorative headband, as we see with this example. The purpose of such figures is unknown; however, as they have been frequently discovered in Chancay graves, some scholars argue that they may have represented a symbolic female companion to accompany the deceased into the afterworld. This said, a few male-female pairs have been found in gravesites, perhaps challenging this theory of female companionship.
A female Cuchimilco figure from the Barbier-Mueller collection of a very similar form sold at Sotheby's Paris, March 22-23, 2013 for 15,625 Euros (approximately $18,441).
Provenance: private S.H. collection, Santa Clara, California, USA; purchased from Contiki Gallery, Florida, USA
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