350 - 550 AD

Height : 78.3 cm - Width : 32 cm - Depth : 19 cm

Brown-beige hollow terracotta covered with tar (chapopote).


The legs are straight and slightly separated. The chest is massive and the rounded shoulders are wide. The left arm falls along the body, whereas the right one is bent at right angle with the fist thrown forward. He holds in his hand a large ceremonial object with a circular mirror of which the rim is adorned with fringes. The figure wears a short-sleeved tunic of which the skirt is decorated with crossing straps and shell-shaped pendants on the bottom edge. He is attired with a necklace with pendant and long earrings. The face reveals a powerful expression, tinged with serenity and interiority. The mouth is closed. The nose is aquiline, its wings are in relief and the nostrils are pierced. The head is topped by a headdress similar to a helmet maintained by a strap under the nose and embellished with two loops on its top. The mirror, the face and part of the legs are covered with tar. Three holes were made at the back of the sculpture to allow the steam to escape during firing.

This sculpture is particularly interesting for the richness of its iconography that refers to the Underworld. Mirror and tar are indeed associated with the idea of passage to the hereafter. The black color is also related to fertility and rebirth, for the rot corn was sown, in order to grow and give rise to a new corn. Furthermore, the quality of execution of this figure, its important size and its excellent condition, make it a sumptuous example from the Veracruz statuary.

The Veracruz culture develops along the Atlantic coast of Mexico, in the region matching the modern-say state of the same name, during the Classic period, between 250 and 950 A.D. This culture can be further subdivided into different “families” among which we can at least distinguish Totonac and Remojadas.  The sculpture we here present belongs to the first one. Different styles were also identified in the Veracruz sculptures, namely the one called El Zapotal, after an archeological site, which characterizes by tall terracotta figures representing humans, animals or deities. Their fineness and their workmanship make them splendors from Mesoamerica.