Pre-Columbian, Valley of Mexico, Teotihuacan, ca. 150 to 650 CE. A stunning ceramic portrait of an enigmatic person holding ceremonial implements, composed of intricately molded ceramic forms carefully assembled by an ancient artisan. The figure, who has no obvious sex, wears a long green skirt with a yellow belt, bracelets, spool earrings, a necklace composed of round white beads, and a headdress with a yellow band and hanging straps. The face is stylized, with long, narrow eyes, a prominent nose, and a slightly open mouth full of teeth. Black lines on the face may indicate tattoos. In one hand, the figure holds what looks like a musical instrument; in the other, a short staff decorated with beads similar to those on the necklace. This is a remarkable portrayal, perhaps showing a shaman or musician involved in a ceremony. Size: 5.5" W x 10.75" H (14 cm x 27.3 cm)
Teotihuacan is the largest pre-Columbian site in the Americas, called the City of the Gods by the Aztecs, who were as fascinated by its ruins and lost culture as we are today. Terracotta figures like this one were ubiquitous in the excavation of Teotihuacan, found in all areas of the site, although most were much smaller than this one. While the earliest were handmade, often found with the fingerprints of their creators, as the city grew the technique changed and they became mold made. Early accounts of the rediscovery of the city from the 1800s describe thousands of small clay heads occupying the landscape. One of these figurines with all of its pieces together is a relatively rare find!
Provenance: ex-Merrin Gallery, New York, USA; ex-private Chicago, Illinois, USA collection, acquired in the 1960s
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Repaired from multiple pieces, with the most notable repairs to the neck and one arm. These are well done and unobtrusive. Great remaining pigment with rich deposits on surface.