Pre-Columbian, central Mexico, northern Veracruz, Huastec culture, ca. 600 to 900 CE. A fantastic standing ceramic figure of a woman, with applied decorative ceramic ornaments and clothing as well as shiny black bitumen-colored details. She is facing forward, her feet planted firmly so that she stands well on her own, her arms raised in a gesture that looks to the modern eye like a blessing, palms open and facing upward. Her clothing is elaborate: a skirt with a thick waistband composed of three rounded bands and a long pectoral that hangs between her breasts, with a three-dimensional, feather-like pendant at its center. She wears anklets studded with disc-like beads, armlets with hanging feather-like projections, and thick bracelets. Her headdress is extensive, flaring outward at the sides in radiating bands, almost looking like the spread wings of an insect. Her headdress is held in place with a wide strap that runs from her temples underneath her nose. Her expression is serious, with large eyes, colored with bitumen (as are her eyebrows) and a slightly open mouth. Size: 13" W x 16" H (33 cm x 40.6 cm)
This figure showcases the amazing style of the Veracruz, whose depictions of startling lifelike but clearly magical figures is unparalleled in ancient Mesoamerica. Excavations near the modern Mexican town of Remojadas have revealed two types of impressive, detailed pottery figures from the Veracruz period: the Sonrientes, the joyous "smiling faces", and figures like this one, more serious, mostly adult female figures, with elaborate costumes, themes, and sometimes props that all seem to point towards religious or political ceremonies. These figures are often found with the bodies smashed into pieces and the heads largely intact - they were ritually destroyed as burial offerings. Their clothing suggests that they depict people of import in society, maybe priests or nobility.
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, with overpainting along the repair lines. Nice original bitumen pigment. Tip of nose and small area of the mouth is lost.