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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Art of Mexico : Grey-green carved schist serpentine stone standing Mezcala anthropomorphic figure
Grey-green carved schist serpentine stone standing Mezcala anthropomorphic figure - CB.2946
Origin: Southwestern Mexico
Circa: 300 BC to 300 AD
Dimensions: 12" (30.5cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Mezcala
Medium: Serpentine

Location: Great Britain
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Mezcala culture is the conventional name attributed to a Mesoamerican culture that was based in what is today the federal state of Guerrero in southwestern Mexico. Although the information relative to this culture is neither numerous nor profound, it is believed to have developed during the Middle and Late Pre-Classic Mesoamerican periods, roughly between 700 and 200 BC. The culture continued undiminished into the Classic Mesoamerican Period, circa 250 to 650 AD, coexisting and developing parallel to the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the north. Archaeologists have been able to study the culture through a limited number of scientific excavations and through the study of Mezcala sculptures found as dedicatory offerings at the Aztec complex of Tenochtitlan. The influence of Teotihuacan influence is more than pervasive in the Mezcala region, whereas at the same time there has also been some considerable influence from the Mezcala culture to the valley of Teotihuacan. The Aztecs, although appearing in the area at a much later date, showed great respect and valued the Mezcala sculptures, since a great group of them was found among the dedicatory offerings excavated at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, built in the 14th and 15th centuries AD. These groups included over fifty-six stone masks and ninety-eight figurines. For a reason still remaining unknown, twenty-six of these figurines were divided equally between two stone boxes and arranged in south- facing rows. The Mezcala culture sculptures are generally characterised by a tendency to be abstract, a style characterised by the simplicity of design and details suggested by lines and differences in texture. The sculptural style of the Mezcala culture was skilfully rendered with straight cuts and tends to be using mostly geometric forms, and their highly-stylized and refined craftsmanship has led them to be compared to the equally well-polished Cycladic figures. In all probability the Mezcala sculptures have been influenced by the Olmec style and vice- versa, the Mezcala culture has obviously had a significant impact to the evolution of sculpture at the Classic-period metropolis of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico. The world renowned British sculptor, Henry Moore, collected the little-known at the time stone figures of the Mezcala, placing them on his tables and windowsills. He stated, in fact, that these stone figurines had a significant influence upon his own work. Moore was obviously not alone in collecting Mezcala figurines, as due to their enduring appeal they were often paired with abstract-expressionist paintings in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. The smooth and extremely polished figure, almost with certainty belonging to a male, is presented assuming a hieratic posture of bold simplicity, carved with a minimalistic quality that evokes modern abstraction, accentuated by the long arms and the rather large head, with prominent browns, sunken eye and open mouth. The sloping cheek planes meet at the centre of the face to form a vertical ridge suggesting the nose. - (CB.2946)


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