Galo Polychrome Female Figurine - PF.3205
Origin: Costa Rica (Guanacaste)
Circa: 500 AD to 800 AD
Dimensions: 8.75" (22.2cm) high x 6.5" (16.5cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta


Galo Polychrome figures provide a wealth of ethnographic detail because of their realistic style. Coiffures, clothing, and careful body painting or tattooing are all clearly shown. Patterns acceptable for female body decoration were probably different from those for males, for whom mythological important animal traits predominate. Galo effigies are almost always female. The mirror-bright burnished surface is technically unsurpassed by any Pre-Columbian pottery, and the angular geometric patterns of reddish-orange, black and cream are impressively vivid. The guilloche ( an ornament formed by two or more intertwining bands or intersecting lines) and woven-mat patterns are indicative of high rank. They represent the finest ceramics of the great tradition of polychrome pottery in Guanancaste- Nicoya. Humans invented symbols, among the first of which was woman. . . the promise of life; fertility with a human face. This robust and full Galo Polychrome female looks as though she has just recaptured the philosophical message lying behind the potter's creation of her. She represents a vision that sought to find expression of a symbol. The symbol is certainly impregnated with the idea of fertility. It's difficult to imagine what the elaborate ornaments on her body precisely mean. We can only suggest that they are complex cosmogonies and rituals that will forever remain impenetrable. She stands before us with her coiffure drawn back from her forehead and tucked beneath her hat. She wears a tanga (pubic cover) and holds a special bowl underneath her left arm. She seems to be on her way now that she has remembered her purpose. We are left with admiration for the potter's technical skills and our purely aesthetic emotions felt for her. We behold her, our eyes listening to the philosophical message that has been lost for eternity. - (PF.3205)



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