Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Jalisco, Ameca Etzatlan style, Protoclassic Period, ca. 100 BCE to 250 CE. A fabulous pair of matched pottery male and female figures. The taller, cream-slipped male warrior figure sits with bent legs, supports a lengthy spear atop his knee with his left arm, and wears a partial cloak around one shoulder with the straps tied around the opposite side of his neck. The shorter female figure rests atop legs folded to one side, holds a petite bowl in her lap atop a knee-length skirt, bears large breasts, and gently places one hand against her smooth cheek. Incised almond-shaped eyes, perky noses, tab-shaped ears, and full lips constitute the visage of both figures, with the woman donning a simple cap, and the man with a red-slipped headband adorned with linear and crosshatch patterns. Size of largest (male): 6.25" W x 9.125" H (15.9 cm x 23.2 cm)
Clay figures like these examples are the only remains that we have today of a sophisticated and unique culture in West Mexico. They made no above-ground monuments or sculptures, at least that we know of, which is in strong contrast to developments elsewhere in ancient Mesoamerica. Instead, their tombs were their lasting works of art: skeletons arrayed radially with their feet positioned inward, and clay offerings, like these, placed alongside the walls facing inward, near the skulls. Large effigy figures like these would most likely have flanked the entrance to a tomb in a way that archaeologists have interpreted as guarding. Some scholars have connected these dynamic sculptures of the living as a strong contrast to the skeletal remains whose space they shared, as if they mediated between the living and the dead.
For another pair of matched seated figures with additional black pigment, please see: Richard F. Townsend, general editor. "Ancient West Mexico: Art and Archaeology of the Unknown Past." Thames and Hudson, New York, p. 129, fig. 32.
Provenance: ex-private Houston, Texas, USA collection, acquired from Chris Webster, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
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Male figure has repairs to spear, both hands, and legs; female figure is professionally repaired from multiple pieces, with restoration and resurfacing along break lines; both figures have small chips and overpainting along break lines and/or new material. Both figures have minor abrasions, light encrustations, and fading to original pigmentation. Nice earthen deposits and great manganese blooms throughout.