MEZCALA - Mexico

350-100 BC

Height : 37 cm - Width : 9,3 cm - Depth : 7 cm
Speckled green granodiorite

This magnificent figure wonderfully illustrates the talent and sensitivity of the Mezcala sculptors of the Guerrero region, who were masters in the art of giving body and soul to stone for ritual and ceremonial purposes. Its very beautiful cut, the beauty of its beautifully polished stone, as pleasing to the eye as it is to the touch, and its modernism, make this work a very fine example of the lithic art of Western Mexico.

The choice of a green stone by the artist is sufficient to attest to its very high symbolic value. Indeed, in Mesoamerica, stones of this colour were related to water and nature. They were therefore a symbol of fertility and were naturally associated with the concepts of life and rebirth.

Endowed with magical powers, works of this type were therefore not inert to their creators, but alive and active. It is assumed that they were ritual and funerary offerings, buried in burials under dwellings or in votive caches, and that their function was to pay homage to ancestors, to accompany their spirit into the hereafter and no doubt to intercede with invisible powers. 

The skull is ritually deformed, a custom common in Mesoamerica among the dominant social classes, and the forehead is receding, a consequence of this intentional modification.

The top of the skull was left rough by the artist to show the appearance of the pebble before it was worked. The general shape of the body reminds us of the primary function of these objects, which were in part ritual axes that gradually took on human form in a religious and ceremonial context.

The eyebrow arches are thick and raised. The eyes, on the other hand, consist of two shallow cavities, the surface of which has not been polished. The nose is broad with a soft bridge. Two lateral surface grooves identify the sinusoidal folds. The lower part of the face descends in a continuous plane to the pointed chin. The mouth is represented by a simple horizontal groove, in the same way as the eyes. The ears are not detailed, they can be guessed through the visible protrusions at the temples and the vertical grooves.

The torso is rectangular and rounded and the back is arched. The arms are not figurative, except for the forearms, sculpted in relief, on the belly, in a symbolic position converging towards the plexus. The belly is rounded. The tapered legs are slightly arched and separated by a clear, deep vertical notch. The feet are not apparent.

What strikes and impresses in the Mezcala tradition is the uniqueness of each piece, even though they are produced by the thousands, and the fact that the artists' own economical use of resources does not detract from the expressiveness of their creations, quite the contrary. Behind an apparent simplicity, every incision, every notch, every relief, has been thought out and patiently inscribed in the pebbles extracted from the bed of the rivers that crisscross Guerrero.

Therein lies the genius of these men and the strength of their art which, although very old, appears surprisingly current. This undoubtedly explains the interest shown in these works by artists of the 20th century who were at the forefront of the revival of post-war sculpture (Brancusi, Morre, Picasso, Breton, etc.).