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Nayarit Pottery Seated Male Ball Player

Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Nayarit, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. A hollow pottery figure in the form of a seated male, seemingly wearing nothing but a head band, nose ring, and spooled earrings. The figure's phallus - if that is what it is - is a broad, flat extension from just below his navel. Black, white, and red slip decorate the body and may suggest a real pattern of tattooing common in Nayarit society. Size: 6.4" W x 8.85" H (16.3 cm x 22.5 cm)

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: Both legs have been repaired, plus surface wear and chipping, as shown. Much pigment remains.

Provenance: Ex-Mitchell collection

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