Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Vera Cruz culture, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. A fascinating ceramic figure of a nude man with a frightening, skeletal face upturned to the viewer, his leering grin and sunken cheeks emphasized. He sits with his legs twisted out to the sides, his arms in front of him as if grasping something, and his genitalia clearly visible. A conical hat is at the top of his head. The figure depicted here is a common one in ancient Mesoamerica, a god whose Veracruz name is lost to time, but who manifested himself to the Aztecs as Mictlantecuhtli, the god of the dead and the Lord of Mictlan, the nine-leveled underworld of Aztec mythology. For the Veracruz, who lived centuries earlier, these skeleton gods were part of the central theme of their artistic and religious world: ritual human sacrifice to ensure the continuation of the harvest. Similar statues have been found marking mass graves of sacrificial victims whose bodies bear evidence of dismemberment and flaying. Size: 6.5" W x 6.95" H (16.5 cm x 17.7 cm)
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-T. Misenhimer collection, Beverly Hills, CA formed between 1960 and 2000
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Repaired and restored from multiple pieces. This is well done and generally unobtrusive. The tip of the hat is lost but otherwise the figure is in nice condition.