Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Jalisco, Ameca-Etzatlan style, ca. 100 BCE to 250 CE. A large and hollow, hand-built and modeled terracotta female figure, sitting with her legs folded to the right side, and holding a cup in both hands between her breasts. Though topless, she does wear a knee-length skirt, multi-ringed ear ornaments, and an elaborate tattoo program adorns her face and body. Note that her abdominal region protrudes a bit, suggesting that she is pregnant. In addition to the geometric tattoos covering her revealed flesh, the surface is replete with extensive manganese deposits. Contributing to her expressive demeanor is her perky visage comprised of wide-open, thickly lidded eyes, a curved nose, an open mouth revealing rows of teeth - this face crowned by an incised, swept back coiffure. Size: 8" W x 10" H (20.3 cm x 25.4 cm)
Jalisco is one of the western Mexico states - including Colima, Nayarit, and Jalisco - where such ancient ceramics were created. Jalisco sculpture is known for presenting relatively stiff postures and penetrating, staring eyes. This figure would have been placed in a shaft tomb, a burial method unique to the ancients of West Mexico; some shafts could be over 50 feet long, and several tombs containing human remains would branch off of the shaft. Pottery figures like this female were placed - usually as one of a group of similar ceramic sculptures - facing outward around the edges of the tomb as if in conversation with or providing for the human remains within; some scholars have theorized that this symbolically depicted a continuum between the worlds of the living and the dead, with communication occurring between them.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private T. Misenhimer collection, Hollywood, California, USA, famous Hollywood film producer
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In addition to the elaborate tattoo program, the surface is covered with manganese blooms. Head reattached and repairs to the front of torso and back with restoration to the break lines, but very well done and difficult to detect.