SAN JUANITO JALISCO - Mexico
100 B.C. - 250 A.D.
MEN: H: 49.5 cm - W: 27.5 cm - D: 22.5 cm
WOMEN: H: 41 cm - W: 26 cm - D: 24 cm
Brown terracotta with cream, brown and red-orange decor. Traces of manganese oxide.
This shaman couple is a masterpiece of funerary art from western Mexico. It comes from Jalisco and is typical of the local style of San Juanito. These remarkable effigies, made by an outstanding potter, were a privilege reserved for dignitaries. Buried with the latter in the deep well graves typical of the region, these valuable offerings had the role of watching over their honorable owner and assisting them on their way to afterlife. Miraculously preserved by the aridity of the soil and the half-light, they are almost the only vestiges that remain to us of the cultures of the west of Mexico. Most represent characters in their daily lives, and the presence of women, alone or by the side of a man or child, is frequent, which indicates that they should have a higher status than elsewhere.
Here the artist evokes a central theme of the religious life of pre-Hispanic peoples, that of shamanic rites. Man and woman have all the characteristics of shamans, these powerful spiritual leaders who exercised the function of counselor and healer in their village. In a seated and open position, clearly very concentrated and spiritually united, they perform a ceremony, which is supposed to protect the deceased from the hostile forces of the underworld.
Sensitive and spontaneous, this artwork testifies to the deep belief of the ancient Mexicans in an afterlife and in the capacity of their offerings to act and intercede with higher powers, in addition to being extremely creative from an artistic point of view.