Pre-Columbian, Southern Mexico to Guatemala, Olmec, ca. 900 to 500 BCE. A standing Olmec were-jaguar figure, finely carved from a beautiful blue-green stone. The body is banded with creamy-white inclusions. This statuette is shown nude with skillfully delineated quintessentially were-jaguar facial details - downturned jaguar mouth, slanted eyes, high arching brows, and jowly cheeks - upon a characteristically elongated pear-shaped head, a sign of high status most likely due to an artificial cranial deformation, practiced from birth among the Olmec and likely used to differentiate clans and/or classes. The body is tall and thin, with the legs and arms skillfully carved, the toes and fingers carefully delineated. Size: 1.6" W x 6.75" H (4.1 cm x 17.1 cm); 7.55" H (19.2 cm) on included custom stand.
To the Olmecs, figurines like this example carried many meanings, not all of which are obvious to us today; however, scholars surmise that the color green was associated with vibrant growth, renewal, and given the cyclical conception of life and death, rejuvenation after death. A breathtaking work of art in near miniature, replete with strong technique, intriguing symbolism, and an inherently beautiful green stone. A superb sculptural work from the Olmec, the early Mesoamerican civilization that most regard as the forerunner of subsequent ancient American cultures such as the Maya and Aztecs!
Provenance: private southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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One leg is lost below the knee. Light scratching on surface commensurate with age.