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Large Dramatic Veracruz Xipe-Toltec Figurine with Fan

Large Dramatic Veracruz Xipe-Toltec Figurine with Fan


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Americas: Pre Columbian: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1169806
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This large piece is a "Veracruz" culture standing priest, Remojadas type, that dates from the Classic period, circa 450-650 A.D. This piece is approximately 22.5 inches high, and easily stands by itself on a custom wooden stand. This piece is of an artistic style, known as "Remojadas", which is the name of a particular archaeological site, although objects in closely related styles actually come from a number of different sites in Veracruz. The name "Remojadas" thus refers to objects from south-central Veracruz, generally from the Classic-period. This piece is also known as a "Xipe-Toltec" type priest, as he portrays the god in costume. The "Xipe-Toltec" cult flourished along the Gulf Coast of modern day Mexico during the Classic and early Postclassic periods before gaining a prominent place in the Aztec pantheon, probably as a result of the subsequent Aztec domination of the Gulf Coast in the mid-15th century. Most Xipe figures vividly depict a human inside a flayed skin of another man, and this god was known as "Our Lord the Flayed One". According to Charles Phillips in "Aztec and Maya", Lorenz Pub., London, 2007, p. 62: "Victims killed in honour of Xipe Totec, the god of planting and vegetation, were shot with arrows so that their blood flowed into the earth like life-giving waters. Indeed, the Aztecs called human blood "chalchiuatl" (precious water). The corpse was then flayed and a priest would wear the skin in honour of the god. The rite was a celebration of the splitting of seeds that makes possible the growth of new vegetation each spring." Mary Miller and Karl Taube in "Ancient Mexico and the Maya", Thames and Hudson Pub., London, 1993, p. 188 also add: "At the time of the Conquest the Xipe festival fell during the spring, in our month of March, and much of its imagery suggests agricultural renewal: as a seed germinates, it feeds off the rotting hull around it, finally letting the new shoot emerge. The Xipe impersonators wore the old skins until they were rotten, when the young man once again emerged." The Xipe-Toltec piece offered here displays a priest wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim, as seen with the rolled skin folds seen hanging below the neck, the skin leggings, the skin bundles tied at the back shoulder and the right hip, and the human skin mask. There are black-bitumen painted highlights seen on the headband with medallions, earplugs, lips, and eyes. There are also black-bitumen painted extruded eyeballs that are seen hanging from the eye openings, and the black lips accentuate an open mouth that shows this dramatic figurine chanting in a ritual posture. This expressive figure is also holding a floral designed fan with petals, which may represent the Xipe ritual of regeneration. This piece is made from a light gray terracotta, and has light tan mineral deposits. This piece was repaired from several large fragments, which is usually the case for large-scale Veracruz pieces such as this, and this piece is a better example than what is usually seen. The floral fan is an attribute that is seldom seen as well, and this is a principle reason why this large example is a scarce to rare type. The floral fan also indicates that the individual depicted is likely in the act of performing the "Xipe-Toltec" regeneration ceremony, along with the fact that this priest is seen with an open mouth who appears to be chanting in the act of the regeneration ceremony which ensured the planting and growth of the new years crops. The majority of these figurines are seen simply standing in an upright position, and are not seen holding any implements of any sort, but more importantly, the majority of these Veracruz "Xipe-Toltec" figurines do not display a dramatic facial expression such as this example. (Another Veracruz "Remojadas" example of this type and of the same size is offered in Bonhams African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art, New York, Nov. 2012, no. 3. $8,000.00-$12,000.00 estimates, $10,000.00 realized.) For the type offered here see: "Ancient Art of Veracruz", Ethnic Arts Council of Los Angeles, 1971, no. 31. Ex: Private CA. collection, circa 1970's. Ex: Bonhams Art & Artifacts of the Americas auction, San Francisco, Sept. 2012, no. 1039. I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition: