Unknown Maker, Mexico (Vera Cruz)
Medium: Painted terra-cotta
22 3/8 x 21 x 5 in. (56.8 x 53.3 x 12.7 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of the Director's Council
Object Number: 95.1.2
Not on view
The pre-Columbian culture referred to as Remojadas developed along the central-southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, beginning ca. 150. The name Remojadas references the specific site in an area just west of the modern city of Veracruz, where a wide range of ceramic figures has been found. The Remojadas style is an eclectic one, perhaps because the ancient site lay on a trade route between many other Mexican cultures, providing multiple artistic influences. The figures’ heads were often made in molds and the bodies were hand-built, a technique introduced from Teotihuacán. The sculptures frequently function as whistles, with a hole in the foot or head, though no such evidence can be found on this example.
Closely resembling the Upper Remojadas style, which is characterized by animated figures dressed in elaborate appliqued costumes and headdresses, this standing female figure wears a tightly fitted two-piece garment and a splendid chin-strap headdress. Standing with her arms outstretched in a supplicating gesture, she confronts the viewer with her wide eyes and fixed gaze. Her oversized head is covered in a light ocher slip of clay that contrasts with the rougher, porous clay of the rest of her form. Painted in black asphalt, her mouth is slightly open. Now empty, her ear spools may have once been ornamented with an inlay of a precious material that has since been lost, and her wrists are adorned with simple bands. Her plain garment is decorated with bows on the bodice and at the waist of her skirt. Braided ribbons and loops at her hips add further ornamentation to the skirt. While the specific purpose of this sculpture is unknown, she may represent a deity, a priestess, a performer, or perhaps a victim of sacrifice.