Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Jalisco, near Teocaltiche, Zacatecas culture, Protoclassic period, ca. 100 BCE to 250 CE. A fabulous pair of hollow-built pottery figures seated on ample thighs and conical posteriors. The figures are depicted nude, with vibrant red slip as the ground for further cream and black negative resist linear and geometric motifs which course across the chest, legs, arms, and heads. The female sits upright with arms curved to her hips with exposed breasts decorated with small circular patterns, and the man is hunched over while playing a cylindrical drum held between his knees. Each stylized head boasts openwork eyes and lips, prominent noses, semicircular ears with serrated earrings and perforations, and high-raised brows, with two button-shaped hair nodules projecting from the man's brow. Hollow figures like these examples are found throughout areas of Jalisco, Mexico within deep shaft tombs which suggest they are offerings to the deceased. Size of largest (male): 8" W x 14" H (20.3 cm x 35.6 cm)
The sculptural creations from the Zacatecas peoples are some of the most admired figures to come out of ancient West Mexico. The consistency of form as well as the bright, recognizable colors of the slip pigmentation, and highly-abstract presentation make them among the most unique ceramic statues from anywhere in the world, and male/female figures like these examples are often found in pairs exhibiting similar stylization. Though specific to areas of Jalisco, Mexico, these statues are often scarce as scholars believe they were produced only for a brief period of ancient Mesoamerican history.
Provenance: ex-private southern California, USA collection
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The female is intact, with rich, scattered manganese deposits overall. The male has had its head repaired and restored; this was expertly done and is almost impossible to discern from the exterior. It, too, has scattered manganese deposits overall. Excellent preservation of pigment. Light scratching and surface nicks commensurate with age.