Pair of Pre-Columbian Nayarit Polychrome Pottery Seated Figures

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Pair of Nayarit Polychrome Pottery Seated Figures. These hand formed figures of a squat, compressed form with rich polychrome finish intact. Nayarit produced the coarsest, most colorful sculptures of the West Coast shaft tomb complexes, and the most artistically powerful. The most known sculptures are ruggedly made human figures. Both sexes are severe in appearance, very heavily adorned and painted for both decoration and to represent clothing. This piece was in the style referred to as Ixtlan del Rio. These abstract figurines have flat, square bodies with highly stylized faces complete with nose rings and multiple earrings. Seated figurines have thin rope-like limbs while the standing figurines have short stocky limbs. One of the first styles to be described, noted ethnographer, and caricaturist Miguel Covarrubias stated that it "reaches the limits of absurd, brutal caricature, a peculiar aesthetic concept that relishes the creation of haunting subhuman monstrosities".] Art historian George Kubler finds that "the square bodies, grimacing mouths, and staring eyes convey a disturbing expression which is only in part resolved by the animation and plastic energy of the turgid forms".] The Western Mexico shaft tomb tradition or shaft tomb culture refers to a set of interlocked cultural traits found in the western Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit, and, to a lesser extent, Colima to its south, roughly dating to the period between 300 BCE and 400 CE, although there is not wide agreement on this end-date. Originally regarded as of Purépecha origin contemporary with the Aztecs, it became apparent in the middle of the 20th century, as a result of further research, that the artifacts and tombs were instead over 1000 years older. Until recently, the looted artifacts were all that was known of the people and culture or cultures that created the shaft tombs. So little was known, in fact, that a major 1998 exhibition highlighting these artifacts was subtitled: "Art and Archaeology of the Unknown Past".

Circa 100 B.C. - 250 A.D. Measurements: 7 inches high by approximately 4 X4 Condition: Excellent without and repairs or restoration, some degradation to the polychrome as expected with age Provenance: From the estate of a Manhattan collector, originally purchased from Essex Arts in Manhattan on October 10, 1966

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