Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Jalisco, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. A fine, hand-molded pottery sculpture showing a seated, conjoined man and woman. The woman sits behind the man, her hands on his sides just below his shoulders. He plays a large drum. They wear matching headdresses, necklaces, and skirts, and both have applied discs on their shoulders that probably represent ritual scarification. Strategically placed red paint emphasizes their matching attire. These figures are from the West Mexican Shaft Tomb tradition and were made to be placed in tombs, where they lined the walls of the tomb while the deceased rested in the center. Size: 7.25" L x 6" W x 10" H (18.4 cm x 15.2 cm x 25.4 cm)
It is relatively rare to find conjoined male/female sculptures. These may represent married couples, and to the modern viewer, the way the woman holds the man looks like tenderness. However, art depicting personal affection is rare from Mesoamerica, so some scholars see these sculptures as part of a ritual performance or possibly a type of healing involving laying on of hands. Musical instruments are associated with shamanic practice, lending further credence to this interpretation.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private T. Misenhimer collection, Hollywood, California, USA, famous Hollywood film producer
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Repaired and restored from multiple pieces. Overpainting in areas of restoration, notably on one of the drummer's arms and the top of the drum. One arm of the back figure has been repaired but not restored.