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Pre-Columbian & Western Art

Human Figure

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Human Figure
500-900 A.D.

Place of Origin: Maya, Mexico
Materials: Dark grey stone
Dimensions: Ht. 48 cm.
Acc. No. 67.416

This dark grey stone sculpture from Mexico, a representative form of Maya culture, portrays a male figure seated with his arms laid around his legs holding them along his belly. As suggests his majestic headgear with a rich crowning band embedded with precious stones tied around the forehead, and the locks of hair a halo-like unfurling on either side, quite identical to Lord Shiva's in his Ananda-Tandava manifestation, the represented figure might have been either a king or a priest like religious authority, perhaps a priest-ruler as a number of early societies are known to have in one and the same person the religious head and the head of the state.

Unanimously identified as a grave icon the sculpture could also be a commemorative representation of the dead, and the headgear, crown and entire embellishment just ceremonial added out of respect to him. Nothing could better define a dead than the seating position that the sculpted figure has, the legs gathered along the belly and arms lying on them in rest - when every action is in the state of suspension and absolute calm, the death, reigns. The deep socketed eyes, upwards arched eyebrows as when in deep thought and the face with no vigour or glow also link the statue with the departed soul.

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