Pre-Columbian, Valley of Mexico, Mixtec people, ca. 1200 to 1500 CE. A fascinating ceramic vessel in the form of a kneeling person with a massive hunchback. The figure sits with his or her hands on the hips, his head projecting from the neck with the face reaching upward as if imploring the viewer. The face is capped by a single, unicorn-like horn; the coiffure or possibly headdress is in symmetrical curls on the sides of the head. The painted eyes stare out at the viewer; the mouth is slightly open as if speaking. Stucco with pigment over top of it decorates the chest, head, and neck of the vessel, which rises from behind the figure's head. Painted on the chest and the neck are glyph-like images. The horn and hunchback suggest that this figure was a shaman, revered by society. Size: 5.55" W x 6.45" H (14.1 cm x 16.4 cm)
Mixtec glyphs are known from a few surviving manuscripts, the Mixtec codices, that were used to chart genealogical histories of ruling dynasties, and similar iconographies and symbols are used in their pottery, even though codices could only be read by a small number of people in the society but polychrome vessels like this one were intended for a wide range of people. At excavations in this region, in fact, we have found more polychrome pottery in commoner's residences than in elite ones!
Provenance: private Colorado, USA collection; ex-private Mike Kalman collection, California, USA; ex-Dave de Roche collection, San Francisco, California, USA
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