HUASTEC – Mexico

1300 – 1500 A.D.

  • Height : 70 cm
  • Width : 17 cm
  • Depth : 41 cm

Beige sandy limestone.

Anthropomorphic sculpture representing a kneeling priest with a significant tenon at the back.

The face is delicately carved. The chin is round. The mouth is closed, with fine and elongated lips. The nose is straight and sharp. The almond-shaped eyes are hollowed-out. The arches of the eyebrows are fine and rounded; they join the root of the nose and merge with the receding forehead. The large, oval ears are lightly engraved and adorned with circular earrings. The head is topped by a cone-shaped headdress with a large band, which is underlined by a fine groove all over the forehead’s width.

The long body is drawn into a rectangle. The arms, bent at a right angle, are placed against the bust and the hands rest on the belly. The fists are clenched and the thumbs are pointed forwards. The figure is kneeling, his feet are folded backwards and his toes are placed at the same level as the knees. He is dressed with a skirt decorated in its middle with a loincloth. He also wears a large pectoral decorated with geometric patterns, from which hangs a pendant. This pendant falls down to the belly, at hands’ height. The whole set of jewels and clothes, made up of a skirt with loincloth, a cone-shaped headdress, large circular earrings and a pectoral with pendant, lead us to identify this figure as a priest. The cone-shaped headdress is particularly typical of people and gods from the Huastec culture.

A significant tenon is visible at the back of the sculpture. As high as the whole back, it goes from the lower part of the head to the top of the buttocks.

The Huastec culture developed during the post-classic period, between 900 and 1500 A.D., in north-western Mexico, along the Gulf Coast, in the region that corresponds to the modern-day states of Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi and Veracruz. Its artistic and architectural production is distinguished by the frequency and persistence of round structures. We can here recognize this characteristic since the figure was sculpted in the round. This figure is also very interesting for its rich finery and its significant tenon. With its perfect state of preservation, it is a great example of the perfect mastery from the Huastec artists.

This piece has been published in the great book from Gérald Berjonneau and Jean-Louis Sonnery, Chefs-d’œuvre inédits de l’Art précolombien, on page 80, figure 110.

Provenance: Ancient European collection since 1964.

Publication: BERJONNEAU Gérald, SONNERY Jean-Louis, Chefs-d’œuvre inédits de l’Art Précolombien, Editions Arts 135, Boulogne, 1985, p. 80, fig. 110.