LAGUNILLAS - CHINESCO NAYARIT- Mexico
100 B.C. - 250 A.D.
Height: 19.2 cm - Width: 14.4 cm - Depth: 10.5 cm
Brown hollow terracotta with brick-red slip and polychrome decorations
Former collection Yvon Collet since 1967
Galerie Mermoz collection since 2019
This figure belongs to the corpus of Chinesco-Lagunillas style figures identifying a tradition established over a relatively short period, in the southern part of the Nayarit region, in western Mexico. The skillful play of volumes, sometimes threadlike, sometimes massive, the music of solids and voids, its beautiful polychrome decorations, its shimmering brick red color and its glazed surface, make it an original and rare work, from which it emanates a great interiority.
Sitting on the floor, one leg extended and the other folded, our character crosses his arms, leaning on his right knee. His tattoos and jewelry - on his neck and arms - indicate that he is an important member of the community, a leader or a shaman.
He is completely covered in brick red paint, except for the dark brown skull, possibly matched with a beanie, unless it is just the depiction of the hair. The head adopts the typical shape of Chinesco figures, recognizable by their rounded skull, broad in front, narrow in profile and flat on the reverse, undoubtedly the result of a ritual deformation, which had been practiced among the elites, for ages, everywhere in Mesoamerica. Note: a vent hole, allowing water vapor to escape during cooking, is visible at the top.
Starting at the temples, the face becomes triangular with thin cheeks descending to a small, inconspicuous chin that sinks into the neck. The eyes are two small slits which give a rather Asian air to this character, at the origin of the name Chinesco, meaning Chinese in Spanish, although there is no proven link between the art of Nayarit and Asia.
The mouth is no more obvious than the eyes, it is hidden under the nose, strong and rounded, the nostrils of which have been perforated, no doubt to hang a beautiful nariguera. The small round ears are tall and protruding and their lobes are pierced. The delicate cheeks are decorated at the level of the cheekbones with a beige conical pattern, pointing towards the nose, whose rim and interior are highlighted with black lines.