Condition : Excellent condition
Object sold with a certificate of authenticity and a thermoluminescence test
This tall, solemn-looking woman is a rare and powerful work produced by the very ancient Tlatilco culture on the central altiplano. It takes its name from the archaeological site northwest of Mexico City on the shores of the now extinct Lake Texcoco, dating back to the beginning of the Preclassic era, nearly 3,000 years ago.
The stylization of its features brilliantly illustrates the originality of the pictorial language of this people of fishermen and farmers and the strength of its representations. Her engraved headdress, of exaggerated proportions, and her body paintings emphasize that she is a very important figure, of which there are few comparable examples known to date. In addition, its large size and sculptural quality attest to the technical mastery already achieved by the craftsmen of the time in the working and firing of clay.
The headgear is incised in a zigzag pattern, the interior of which bears traces of red paint faded with time. It signals the belonging of this woman to the ruling class, which tends to confirm her broad and elusive forehead as well as her oblique and slender eyes, indicators of a ritual deformation, an ancestral custom in Mesoamerica, practiced on children from the birth.
The thin eyebrow arches are particularly high and long. Large spaces above the eyelids and at the bridge of the nose give this woman a somewhat surreal air. Her eyes are also unique: very wide and very narrow, they stretch from the nose to the temples, with a rim in strong relief and small round perforated pupils. In between is the long, straight nose. Under its discreet tip, the severe mouth is represented by an elongated oval and the lips are swollen. The lower face is angular with a fairly straight lower jaw and a prognathic chin. The long ears are deeply notched, probably the stylized representation of the pinna and lobe.
The cheeks in particular are decorated with red stripes painted on clay.
The round shoulders are extended by two slender arms embracing the rectangular bust and placing the hands flat on the sides of the stomach as a sign of authority. The fingers of the hands, like the toes, are identified by deep grooves. The torso supports a small chest with a large space between the nipples. A circular hole, in place of the navel, was used to allow water vapor to escape during cooking, preventing the clay from exploding.
As on the face, we can see the remains of the application of a reddish-brown paint on all or part of the arms, chest, stomach and back. Make-up that evokes tattoos and which also constitutes a strong social and identity marker, without it being possible to say what these traces represent precisely.
The legs, finally, are relatively short and muscled. They take the shape of bulbs, characteristic of Tlatilco figures, and end with two flared feet allowing the work to be maintained. Their roundness tends to compensate for the rigidity of the hieratic posture and the geometric face.
Within the repertoire of Tlatilco culture, which has delivered many small solid terracotta statuettes called pretty ladies, and more massive hollow effigies, this woman is an exception by virtue of her exceptional size and her rare style.
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