SHAMAN COUPLE

SAN JUANITO JALISCO - Mexico

100 B.C. - 250 A.D.

Man : Height : 49.5 cm - Width : 27.5 cm - Depth : 22.5 cm

Women : Height : 41 cm - Width : 26 cm - Depth : 24 cm

Brown terracotta with cream, brown and red-orange decoration

Provenance

Former collection M. Alonso Cajigas since 1960

Galerie Mermoz Collection since 2017

This beautiful and remarkable seated couple testifies to the talent and sensitivity of the Jalisco sculptors, settled on the west coast of Mexico.

Their heads, very elongated due to a ritual cranial deformation, is characterized by a high and wide forehead. It is topped with a wide headband. Two slits represent the eyes with hemmed eyelids. The aquiline nose is long and thin. The mouth, with thin lips, seems half-open. Long earrings decorate their ears.

The neck is thick, the head seems to rest directly on the large quadrangular bust. The shoulders are covered with protuberances evoking scarifications, made by pastillage.

The woman's chest is bare, her breasts are opulent and their nipples protrude. Her thin, short arms are raised, palms stretched forward as if in prayer. The woman's short, chubby legs are stretched out on the ground. A red-orange skirt decorated with chevrons covers them.

The man is completely naked, his sex is visible. He holds a long ceremonial scepter in his right hand, which is resting on his knee, and a bowl in his left. These attributes allow us to identify him as a shaman. His legs are spread out and folded.

Polychrome geometric paintings cover the bodies of the two figures (brown, cream, red-orange).

This pair is characteristic of the production found at the bottom of underground chambers, where they performed a psychopomp function, of one of the so-called "well tomb" cultures of western Mexico. This cultural group, known as the "West Coast", includes the Colima and Nayarit cultures. Each of them corresponds to one of the current eponymous states.

These terracotta figures embody a local style, that of San Juanito (municipality of Antonio Escobedo, in the Magdalena Basin), from the Jalisco culture that developed between 200 BC and 300 AD.

This style is notably identifiable with these hanging earrings. They are often worn by figures representing naked men and half-clothed women (pregnant woman, couple...), like the figure below who share the same physical characteristics as well as wearing these long and hanging earrings.