Seated Figure

Mexico, Tenenexpan, Veracruz, Olmec culture
Preclassic period (1500–900 B.C.)
c. 1200–900 B.C.
Ceramic with white slip and traces of paint
10 7/8 x 9 1/8 x 6 1/8 in. (27.7 x 23.2 x 15.6 cm)
AP 1971.02
Currently Not On View
This hollow ceramic seated figure of a child, with snarling expression, plump babyish proportions, and incised headdress, belongs to a type of so-called “hollow baby” figures found throughout Olmec territory. They depict asexual infantile figures with chubby bodies, and have been variously interpreted as jaguar-human hybrids (the “were-jaguar”), as children with deformities that mark them as having supernatural powers, as images of rain gods, or simply as well-fed infants. They vary in appearance from near-jaguar to predominantly human. In this example of the highly humanized type, the rounded, simplified forms and smooth finish are traits shared with the finest Olmec works in jade and basalt.

Provenance

(John Stokes, New York); purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1971.