Saturday, December 13, 2008

08/09 Academic Decathlon Image #7

Smiling Head, Veracruz, Ceramic, 6 x 7 in. (Pre-Hispanic Art)

This piece of hollow ceramic work is considered unique in the Classic and Epiclassic period. Because this piece was found along with tens of thousands clay figurines at the site called Remojadas, the identifying classification "remojadas figures" is applied to such objects.

The shape of the head is stylized and reflects their idea of beauty at the time. Made of clay, it was shaped while in a plastic state and then fired. Some of the figures had the addition of paint on the surface emphasizing certain features. As with so many artifacts, the exact purpose of this object is unknown, but many of them were found in burials. But, smiling figures are very rare in ancient Mesoamerican art, so this smiling head must have had special significance. Be careful not to put your own cultural understanding of a smiling face as an expression of happiness in your interpretation, because this ancient culture may have had a very different significance for the expression!

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