Pre-Columbian, Gulf Coast of Mexico, Veracruz, Remojadas, ca. 600 to 900 CE. An adorable terracotta sonriente (smiling face) of sizable form depicting a standing child with arms extended outward and upward to his sides and supine hands. The charming child stares forward through slender almond shaped eyes above a pointed nose, open bowed lips displaying a row of top teeth, and a cleft chin. Its oblong face is flanked by two intricately formed realistic ears, each bearing large circular earplugs. Dressed elegantly, a small loin cloth of geometric motif hangs below the child's bulging belly while a lovely band of a symmetrical geometric pattern stretches across its concave chest. A collar necklace with spherical beads adorns its neck below a voluminous headdress embellished with a gorgeous spiral design of incised lines. A fun figure with a smile just as mysterious as the Mona Lisa's! Size: 7.25" L x 5.25" W (18.4 cm x 13.3 cm); 16.5" H (41.9 cm) on included custom stand.
Sonrientes or "smiling faces" are the most famous pottery figures from this period in Veracruz (known as Remojadas for its keystone archaeological site). Like this one, they depict wide, smiling, childlike faces, often with teeth showing. Smiling faces are very rare in Mesoamerican art, but in Remojadas and the surrounding area, these Sonrientes were apparently popular, leading to a mystery for archaeologists. Some have suggested that the smiles are the result of consuming the alcoholic beverage pulque, or taking hallucinogenic drugs; others see them as representing performers.
Provenance: ex Clars Auction Gallery; ex prominent Woodside, California, USA collection; ex Ron Messick Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, acquired before 2003
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Repaired from several pieces with some hairline fissures and adhesive material still visible. Expected nicks/chips. Very nice with rich manganese deposits on proper left ear.