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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Xochipala Art : Xochipala Sculpture of a Man Holding Two Serpents
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Xochipala Sculpture of a Man Holding Two Serpents - PF.0451
Origin: Western Mexico
Circa: 1200 BC to 900 BC
Dimensions: 7.625" (19.4cm) high x 3" (7.6cm) wide
Catalogue: V2
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The name Xochipala has been attached to an early style of figurines and pottery unearthed in the modern Mexican state of Guerrero. Xochipala figures are noteworthy not only for naturalism, but also for their age. The Xochipala style dates to the Early Formative period of Pre- Columbian Mesoamerican history (around 1800- 200 B.C.), making them among the earliest works of figurative art in the region, contemporaneous with the more celebrated Olmec culture of the Gulf Coast. While certain scholars have tried to trace links between the Olmec and Xochipala styles, other scholars have ardently disagreed, making it possible that any artistic similarities may have derived from cross-cultural influences and not direct relations. While the Olmecs may have overshadowed the Xochipala culture in our contemporary popular knowledge of Mesoamerican history, Xochipala figures are almost universally praised by scholars and connoisseurs for their striking naturalistic modeling and sensitive depictions.

In almost every ancient culture, the serpent is a powerful symbol. One thinks of Cretan goddesses with snakes entwined on their outstretched arms, the cobra on the crown of Egypt, or the happenings in the Garden of Eden. Clearly, there is similar potent magic at work in this figure. The sinuous reptiles this awestruck individual holds tell us that we are no longer in the ordinary world but in a realm of spirits, ritual and mystery. - (PF.0451)


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