Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Veracruz culture, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. A fascinating ceramic figure, showing someone who appears to be starving, with three deep grooves dug into the skull, one hand raised as if wiping tears away from the eye. The figure is seated, with one leg drawn up, the other splayed out. The body is emaciated, with a clear ribcage, but the figure wears heavy bracelets, earrings, and what appear to be delicately carved cowrie shell anklets around his ankles; this is interesting because cowrie shells are a Pacific coast product and so would have had to be traded to arrive in the Veracruz region. These are painted black with the classic thick pigment, chapopote, that was common to Veracruz artwork and was made from petroleum-rich deposits. Size: 6.25" W x 8" H (15.9 cm x 20.3 cm)
Excavations near the town of Remojadas have revealed two types of impressive, detailed pottery figures: the Sonrientes, the joyous "smiling faces" depicting people of all ages and sexes, 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. Who could this mysterious figure be? A mourner, or possibly someone who has lost the ballgame? That is left to your imagination.
This piece has been tested using thermoluminescence (TL) and has been found to be ancient and of the period stated. A full report will accompany purchase.
Provenance: private southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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