STANDING FIGURE

JALISCO - Mexico

100 B.C. - 250 A.D.

  • Height : 42.5 cm
  • Width : 37.4 cm
  • Depth : 20 cm

Beige hollow terracotta with a brown-beige coating and significant traces of manganese oxide.

Anthropomorphic sculpture representing a standing figure, probably a shaman, putting his left hand on the head of another figure lying in a crawling position next to him, in sign of submission.

The big figure has robust legs that are apart and lightly bent. He is dressed with dark-painted pants. His torso is strongly developed and his chest is in relief. The shoulders are wide and rounded. The right arm is folded and the slightly raised hand firmly holds a stick. The left arm is turned downwards with the hand placed on the little figure’s head. The elongated head is very expressive. The mouth with fine lips is closed. The nose is long and straight. The almond-shaped eyes are hemmed. The ears are salient. The forehead is high. The skull is covered by a tight headdress. The entire face is decorated with black-colored tattoos: a diamond shape encircles the mouth, broad triangles frame the eyes and small circles adorn the cheeks and forehead.

On the left of the big figure, a naked little figure is lying in a crawling position, which makes him look like a dog and clearly indicate an attitude of submission. His head is held by the big figure. The mouth is half-open, the nose is long and fine, and the eyes are closed. His face is decorated with the same tattoos than the big figure.

The Jalisco culture develops in western Mexico, in the region matching the modern-day State of the same name, between 200 B.C. and 300 A.D. It belongs to the cultural group known as “West Coast”, of which the Colima and Nayarit cultures are also part. From an artistic point of view, the Jalisco culture mostly produced funerary ceramics representing figures in a both serene and expressive attitude, depicting sacred or daily-life scenes, captured in the very moment and showing a spontaneous quality.

Contrary to what might be believed at first sight, the sculpture we here present does not depict a scene between a warrior and his prisoner. Indeed, thanks to the identical tattoos that cover their face, we can identify these two figures as being part of the same tribe. We can therefore assure that this scene is a ritual act of submission with a domineering shaman. This kind of scene remains quite rare and makes this sculpture an exceptional piece, of which we can also admire the great expressivity and the excellent condition.

Provenance:

-Ancient European collection since 1969.

Publication:

-Figures de pierre. L’art du Guerrero dans le Mexique précolombien, exh. cat., from October 2nd to November 21st 1992, Musée-Galerie de la Seita, Paris, p. 203, n°209.

Bibliography:

-KAN M., MEIGHAN C. AND NICHOLSON H.B., Sculpture of Ancient West Mexico: Nayarit, Jalisco Colima. A catalogue of the Proctor Stafford Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1970, p. 113, fig. 76.