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Lot 64b, Auction 8/17/2017: Nayarit Pottery Seated Figure w/ Musical Rasp

Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Nayarit, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. A seated hollow pottery figure with a cheerful smile, holding a musical rasp, who may be female based on the suggestion of breasts. She sits with her legs curved in, mirroring her arms, the rasp over one shoulder, and in her hand a rock or wide stick for playing it. Size: 6.7" W x 8.55" H (17 cm x 21.7 cm)

She has wide eyes that may once have had inlays made of shell or some other material and wears a hat or headdress with hand designs on it - perhaps suggesting some ritual removal of the hands of enemies. She also has large earrings and seems to be wearing some kind of skirt. A huge pointed nose ring completes her attire. Clay figures like this one are the only remains that we have today of a sophisticated and unique culture in West Mexico -- they made no above-ground monuments or sculptures, at least that we know of, which is in strong contrast to developments elsewhere in ancient Mesoamerica. Instead, their tombs were their lasting works of art: skeletons arrayed radially with their feet positioned inward, and clay offerings, like this one, placed alongside the walls facing inward, near the skulls. Some scholars have connected these dynamic sculptures of the living as a strong contrast to the skeletal remains whose space they shared, as if they mediated between the living and the dead.

Condition: Repair to arm holding rasp in two places. Lots of pigment remaining.

Provenance: Ex-Private Orange County, CA, CA collection acquired in the early 1960's

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