Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Jalisco, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. A large kaolin ceramic figure of a woman, portrayed nude and kneeling, holding a large olla on her lap. Her eyes are outlined in thick black pigment, as are her lips; her irises are also painted, and she has black lines along her prominent chin, perhaps indicative of tattoos. Her hairline is strongly defined, with smooth, black-painted hair radiating along the top of her head. The kaolin clay gives her a glowing appearance that is rare in Jalisco figures. Size: 8" W x 12" H (20.3 cm x 30.5 cm)
West Mexican shaft tomb figures like this one derive their names from the central architectural feature that we know of from this culture. These people would build generally rectangular vertical shafts down from the ground level down to narrow horizontal tunnels that led to one or more vaulted or rounded burial chambers. The geomorphology in the area means that these chambers are dug out of tepetate, a type of volcanic tuff material, which give the chambers a rough-edged look. Although the dimensions of the chambers vary considerably - some only large enough to hold a single burial and its offerings, others seem designed to hold entire lineages - the placement of burial goods like this hollow figure was very similar. Grouped with other hollow figures, and alongside clay bowls, and boxes, they were positioned around the body (or bodies), near the skull. Unfortunately, we lack the information we would need to understand what these figures were made for. Do they represent everyday people, even individuals? Are they religious? Were they created to mediate between the living and the dead? Whatever their purpose, today they are beautiful artwork and reminders of the mysterious past.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private T. Misenhimer collection, Hollywood, California, USA, famous Hollywood film producer
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Forehead and wrists/hands have been expertly repaired and restored, with overpainting of restored areas. Also a tiny area of restoration on one breast. Otherwise the figure is in nice condition, with extensive deposits and root marks as well as some remaining black pigment. Two firing holes, one on either side of the head.