Vintage and Antique Tribal Art and Artifacts from The Americas.

A Maya Jaina type earthenware figurative whistle

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1185239

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michael cichon tribal arts
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This enigmatic figure, possibly a male or female, has a howler monkey face and a fully human body. Whether it portrays a masked individual or an envisioned concept of ritual transformation is unclear. A thick, twisted cloth is seen hanging from around the neck, ending in a tassel and overlays a bib-like garment painted in 'Maya blue' pigment applied to the ceramic after firing. Post-fire yellow pigment is strong and well-preserved, as well. The figure holds a rattle in its right hand, suggesting music was part of the transformation process, and the left hand is gracefully thrown back with palm facing the viewer. That arm appears to be wrapped in a similar twisted textile as seen on the torso.Possibly either a death bubble or jade bead is held between the lips, but in any case the form symbolizes sacred breath. A central, cascading coiffure has been appliqued on top of the head, and six long braids fall along the back below the neckline. The working whistle mechanism is placed inside the tripod support that also functions as the mouthpiece. These figurines were made for several hundred years (CE 600-900) as burial offerings on the Island of Jaina, just off the coast of Campeche, Mexico. 5.25"H, and in very fine condition with a chip to the tip of the left foot, both ear ornaments, bead in mouth, and appliqued hair elements on the head. Provenance: Eisermann Collection, Houston TX, before 1970. A rare example with a whistle that still sounds in a low, rich tone.