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HOME : PRE COLUMBIAN ART : Pre-Columbian Art Collection/ HK : Terracotta Seated Male Figure
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Terracotta Seated Male Figure - PF.3386
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 800 AD
Dimensions: 9.5" (24.1cm) high
Catalogue: V16
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Polychrome
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: Hong Kong

Location: UAE
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This male hunchback effigy vessel comes from the Guanacaste-Nicoya polychrome tradition, the Galo polychrome style. Its mirror-bright burnished surfaces are technically unsurpassed by any Pre-Columbian pottery, and yellows, reds, oranges, creams, maroons, and blacks of the polychrome decorations are impressively vivid. Among such sculptures are the full human figures with elaborate representations of tattoos or body paint. Such a brilliant polychrome tradition represents an important social dimension; when the northern trade network that brought jade, slate-backed pyrite mirrors, foreign ceramics, and other luxury goods, the Nicoyans responded by producing their own special purpose pottery. Inspired by northern models, it also incorporated local and southern elements, forming a dazzling hybrid style that was traded around Central America and southern Meso-America in the centuries to come. Elaborately decorated with colors and patterns, this sculpted male hunchback figure is partially kneeling, as if he is about to make a movement or a gesture. A fine example of Galo Polychrome figures, he provides a wealth of ethnographic detail because of the realistic style. His earspools, body painting or tattooing, and the hunched back are all vividly shown. Obviously a special male personage, he also wears a flat headdress. His almond-shaped eyes outlined with black paint, his lips colored with light orange, and his cheeks enhanced with patterns, his bold face has an unforgettable charisma. With his mouth slightly open, he seems surprised, as if he just saw something magical. Hunchbacks were often attributed with magical power-- perhaps this man was chosen as a ritual performer. Although we may not know what he saw, we can feel his emotions and aesthetic beauty of his graceful sculptural form. - (PF.3386)


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