Precolumbian Collection

Seated Woman
Seated Woman

Seated Woman

Mexico, Guerrero, Xochipala culture
Pre-Classic period (c. 1600–100 B.C.)
c. 1500–1200 B.C.
Ceramic
4 3/8 x 3 1/8 x 2 7/8 in. (11.1 x 8 x 7.3 cm)
AP 1971.04
The Xochipala figures are named after the remote West Mexican village near which all known examples have been found. The style is one of extraordinary physical presence and naturalism for its period.
Standing Man
Standing Man

Standing Man

Mexico, Guerrero, Xochipala culture
Pre-Classic period (c. 1600–100 B.C.)
c. 1600–1200 B.C.
Ceramic
8 1/2 x 5 1/16 x 2 7/8 in. (21.6 x 12.9 x 7.3 cm)
AP 1971.03
This figure of a standing man came from a burial found near the remote mountain village of Xochipala, and may represent an early regional style influenced by the art of the Olmec homeland on the Gulf Coast, or perhaps a formative period of Olmec art.
Seated Figure
Seated Figure

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
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.
Standing Figure
Standing Figure

Standing Figure

Mexico, Olmec culture
Middle Pre-Classic period (900–300 B.C.)
c. 900–400 B.C.
Jadeite
5 1/2 x 2 11/16 x 1 1/8 in. (13.9 x 6.9 x 2.9 cm)
AP 1981.07
The Olmecs produced the first complex culture in Middle America. Their settlements saw the establishment of the first sacred centers composed of plazas, mounds, and pyramids; and the ceremonial centers contained colossal basalt sculptured heads that portrayed secular leaders as well as deities.
Conch Shell Trumpet
Conch Shell Trumpet

Conch Shell Trumpet

Guatemala, Maya culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 250–400
Shell with traces of cinnabar
H. 11 9/16 in. (29.3 cm); Diam. 5 1/4 in. (13.4 cm)
AP 1984.11
This elaborately decorated conch shell bears the face of a Maya king, carefully incised following the undulations in the shell’s surface, and a column of glyphs to the side recording the name of its royal owner.
Rounded Bowl
Rounded Bowl

Rounded Bowl

Mexico or Guatemala, Maya culture
Classic period (A.D. 250–900)
c. A.D. 300–900
Limestone
H. 3 9/16 in. (9.1 cm); Diam. 5 in. (12.7 cm)
AP 1994.03
Maya art is noted for its dense and complex pictorial decoration, although not all Maya material was meant to be adorned. In media such as onyx, it is often the case that when vessels are decorated, they are done so with great restraint.
Tripod Vessel
Tripod Vessel

Tripod Vessel

Mexico or Guatemala, Maya culture
Classic period (A.D. 250–900)
c. A.D. 300–900
Limestone
H. 9 7/16 in. (23.9 cm); Diam. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm)
AP 1994.02
This Maya limestone vessel is unusual for its beautiful material and simple form. The vessel is crafted from a single piece of stone into a cylindrical vase with straight flaring sides ending in a slightly everted lip. At the base are three supports of rounded “tear-drop” form.
Royal Belt Ornament
Royal Belt Ornament

Royal Belt Ornament

Possibly Guatemala, Maya culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 400–500
Pale gray-green jade
9 1/4 × 3 × 1/8 in. (23.5 × 7.6 × 0.3 cm)
AP 2004.05
This exquisitely decorated jade belt ornament originally formed part of a royal costume that included a belt assemblage consisting of three such pendants. One side represents a full-length profile portrait of a young Maya ruler richly attired in the regalia associated with enthronement.
Singing Priest or God
Singing Priest or God

Singing Priest or God

Mexico, Valley of Mexico, Teotihuacán culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 400–600
Fresco
23 11/16 x 43 1/2 in. (60.2 x 110.5 cm)
AP 1972.16
The city of Teotihuacán, located about thirty miles northeast of Mexico City,was the capital of the first classical civilization of Mesoamerica, dating from around the first to the seventh century A.D.
Tripod Vessel with Lid
Tripod Vessel with Lid

Tripod Vessel with Lid

Guatemala, Maya culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 400–500
Ceramic with stucco and polychrome pigments
H. 11 in. (27.9 cm); Diam. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)
AP 1997.01
The art of the Maya is principally the art of the ruling elite. Vessels were made to honor and commemorate once-living rulers and to venerate their gods and ancestors; these objects, laden with power and symbolism, were then buried in tombs alongside their royal or noble owners.
Urn in the Form of Cociyo, God of Lightning and Rain
Urn in the Form of Cociyo, God of Lightning and Rain

Urn in the Form of Cociyo, God of Lightning and Rain

Mexico, Oaxaca, Monte Albán IIIa, Zapotec culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 400–500
Ceramic
28 1/2 x 21 x 18 in. (72.4 x 53.3 x 45.7 cm)
AP 1985.09
The primary capital of Zapotec culture was the ceremonial site of Monte Albán (in the modern state of Oaxaca), where the Zapotecs worshipped a complex pantheon of nature gods.
Codex-Style Vessel with Two Scenes of Pawahtun Instructing Scribes
Codex-Style Vessel with Two Scenes of Pawahtun Instructing Scribes

Codex-Style Vessel with Two Scenes of Pawahtun Instructing Scribes

Possibly Mexico or Guatemala, Maya culture
Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900)
c. A.D. 550–950
Ceramic with monochrome decoration
H. 3 3/4 (9.5 cm); Diam. 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm)
AP 2004.04
This celebrated vessel depicts two scenes with the deity Pawahtun, a principal god of Maya scribes, in animated lessons with young disciples. The Pawahtun is recognizable by his aged features and his netted headdress with a brush wedged into the ties.
Vessel with a Mythological Frieze
Vessel with a Mythological Frieze

Vessel with a Mythological Frieze

Possibly Guatemala or Belize, Maya culture
Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900)
c. A.D. 550–950
Polychromed ceramic
H. 10 13/16 in. (27.5 cm); Diam. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)
AP 2004.02
This tall vessel is skillfully painted with a unique mythological frieze depicting two renderings of the aged supreme deity Itzamna, the god of heaven and sun for the Yucatec Maya.
Smiling Girl Holding a Basket
Smiling Girl Holding a Basket

Smiling Girl Holding a Basket

Mexico, central Veracruz, Nopiloa style
Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900)
A.D. 600–750
Ceramic with white slip and traces of paint
7 9/16 x 6 1/8 x 3 3/4 in. (19.2 x 15.5 x 9.5 cm)
AP 1978.01
Among numerous regional variations, hollow modeled figures from the Veracruz area of the Gulf Coast are noted for their typical smiling facial expressions and the great care given to the slightest details of ornament and attire.
Standing Dignitary
Standing Dignitary

Standing Dignitary

Peru, South Coast, Wari culture
Middle Horizon, c. 7th–11th century A.D.
c. A.D. 600–1000
Wood with shell-and-stone inlay and silver
4 x 2 1/2 x 1 in. (10.2 x 6.4 x 2.6 cm)
AP 2002.04
This rare Wari freestanding figurine is composed of intricate and densely patterned inlays of mother-of-pearl, purple and orange spondylus shell, mussel shell, turquoise, pyrite, greenstone, lapis lazuli, and silver (for the headdress) on a wood matrix.
Standing Ruler
Standing Ruler

Standing Ruler

Guatemala, Maya culture
Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900)
c. A.D. 600–800
Ceramic with traces of paint
9 3/8 x 3 7/8 x 3 7/8 in. (23.8 x 9.9 x 9.8 cm)
AP 1984.03
The surviving works of Maya civilization range from the smallest objects to great edifices. Among the small-scale artworks of the Maya are many exquisite ceramic figurines only a few inches high.

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