1150 - 600 B.C.

Height: 30.3 cm - Width: 12.4 cm - Depth: 6.3 cm

Brown hollow terracotta covered with a brick red slip, with traces of manganese oxide


This beautiful enigmatic woman is a powerful representation, attached to the very ancient Tlatilco culture. It takes its name from the eponymous archaeological site, located northwest of present-day Mexico City on the shores of the now extinct Lake Texcoco, considered one of the major places of artistic creation of the pre-Classic period in Mesoamerica.The energy that emanates from this work, its beautiful, fluid and sensual curves, its magnificently preserved brick red color and its glazed surface polished with obvious care, place it among the most beautiful productions of this people of fishermen and farmers of the upper central highlands.

Discovered in the twentieth century in a funerary context or in votive offerings from ancient shrines, the vast majority are female figures, characterized by their nudity and their marked forms at the level of the chest, the waist, the hips and thighs, exalting their sensuality.

Planted on her two legs, in a frontal position, this woman leans her head back and unfolds her two arms in a gesture of welcome, imploration, even abandonment, full of tension, suggesting that she is totally in a trance. The observation of her face, moreover, speaks in this sense: her exaggeratedly wide and hollow eyes, with a thin pupil incised vertically, evoking the hypnotic gaze of a snake, as well as her open mouth with the chin slightly forward. , reflect the intensity of the hallucinatory visions to which she seems subject to.

This attitude, forcefully expressing a modified state of consciousness, as well as the characteristics of this effigy (discs on the ears, elaborate tonsure on the head, strongly elongated skull indicating a ritual deformation specific to dignitaries) suggest that it is a representation of an important female shaman, whom the members of the village came to consult so that she questions the spirits in order to obtain their assistance.

It could also be that she participates in an agrarian rite, aimed at invoking fertility and the favors of higher powers. In this context, her beautiful violin silhouette, typical of Tlatilco figures, and her generous shapes would not only be an ode to femininity, it would also symbolize the power of nourishing Mother Earth, reigning over the yields of the crops and the fertility of women and consequently the survival of the villages.

From an anatomical point of view, we will also remember the originality of the visual language which will strongly mark the avant-garde artists of the post-war period in the twentieth century. Often in the Tlatilco figures, there is a certain daring distance from reality. Here, the shoulders are not apparent, and the tapered arms are noticeably short, with hands without detail, appearing stump-like.

These features are unlikely to reflect deformities, as has been argued. They are more likely linked to stylistic conventions, perhaps having a symbolic connotation. Unless it is a question of a ceramist's bias for the sake of the general balance of his work or even the result of a technical constraint encountered by the latter.