Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Nayarit, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. An impressively large and finely modeled earthenware sculpture depicting a woman, standing proud with a characteristically wide torso, her hands resting on her abdomen which protrudes slightly, suggesting that she may in fact be pregnant. Perky breasts and delineated genitalia further emphasize her fertile prowess. Though nude, she does wear an elaborate jewelry ensemble comprised of multiple ear ornaments, a four-strand necklace with incised beads, multiple nose rings, and coiled armbands. Her face is quite expressive with striking, bold details including wide open almond-shaped eyes - each one with tears or long lashes delineated via negative resist below the lower lid - arched brows leading to a pronounced nose, and a lifelike, open mouth giving the impression that the woman is perhaps singing, speaking, or chanting. This striking visage is crowned by a centrally parted, incised coiffure with long locks falling to her neckline. Size: 24" L x 12" W (61 cm x 30.5 cm)
Nayarit, located on Mexico's southwestern coast, was during this time part of the shaft tomb culture, along with neighbors to the north in Jalisco and Colima. In this culture, the dead were buried down shafts - 3 to 20 meters deep - that were dug vertically or near vertically through the volcanic tuff that makes up the geology of the region. The base of the shaft would open into one or more horizontal chambers with a low ceiling. These shafts were almost always dug beneath a dwelling, probably a family home, and seem to have been used as family mausoleums, housing the remains of many related individuals. This figure was created to be placed inside those mausoleums, perhaps to mediate between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Provenance: private Lexington, Kentucky, USA collection; ex Dr. Raymond Thomas collection
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Foot has been broken and nicely reattached. Wonderful burnished finish with nice smoke clouds from the firing process. Areas of manganese deposits.