Description & Technical information
A pumpkin-shaped tripod ceremonial vase - Comala - COLIMA - Mexico - 100 B.C. 250 A.D - Pre-Columbian
Height: 23.8 cm
Diameter body: 33.2 cm
Diameter neck : 12.5 cm
Hollow brown terracotta with brown-orange slip
Documents (originals) provided to the acquirer:
- Certificate of authenticity of the Galerie Mermoz,
Santo Micali, Expert, (CNE) Compagnie Nationale des Experts
- Certificate of Art Loss Register
- Passport of free circulation
- Thermoluminescence report
This magnificent vase with its soft shapes and stylized lines, sublimated by a warm and lustrous slip, is part of the Comala style, a cultural expression that developed on the northwest coast of Mexico, in the region of Colima, dominated by the volcano of the same name, at the foot of which the fertile valleys have known thousands of years of prosperous occupation.
The local traditions are characterized by the technical and artistic excellence of their ceramics, which are highly prized by collectors for their elegant, delicate shapes, vibrant colours and luminous, satin finish.
This vase, whose quality designates it as a ceremonial object of great value, is a splendid example of this exceptional production, which gives pride of place to plants and animals, in parallel with the very numerous human figures. It represents an imposing pumpkin, from the Cucurbitaceae family, which was one of the staple foods of Mesoamerican cultures along with corn and beans. It is therefore a true symbol of life and abundance.
Ample and generous, this container is wider than it is high. It rests on three short feet in the shape of parrots, sacred species associated with the celestial world and more particularly with the sun god. The ribs appear to be protruding, an original treatment that gives it style and vigor. The neck is in place of the stalk. It has a short neck with flat and flared lips.
The birds used as support are represented with their heads in the air, their hooked beaks hanging on the bark and their pointed tails resting on the ground. Two side wings are modeled at an angle on either side. The artist has given a beautiful curve to each of the parrots, no doubt for aesthetic reasons, but also and above all to ensure that the vase is maintained.
The set has balanced proportions and a clear, uncluttered plastic that makes it a particularly modern and elegant piece. Its reddish-brown color with orange accents is, moreover, brilliant. This color, typical of Colima terracotta, is the result of a skillful oxidation firing (without smoke), which in this case, has been perfectly mastered.
If, in Mesoamerica as elsewhere, ceramics were used to make everyday utilitarian objects, the most beautiful works were ritual objects and prestige offerings belonging to the most important members of the community, whose status they showed.
They were buried alongside the high-ranking deceased in the large shaft tombs, typical of the cultures of northwestern Mexico, which spread their galleries and chambers deep underground and dotted the territory of Colima but also the neighboring regions of Jalisco and Nayarit. This prolonged burial has miraculously preserved them from the ravages of time.
The supposed symbolic function of these naturalistic vases, representing different plants, was to feed and quench the thirst of the dignitaries so that they could complete their perilous journey to the afterlife and be welcomed by the ancestors with the respect due to their rank. As for the parrots that maintain this work, they are probably there to carry the deceased in his ascent to the celestial world.
Date: 100 BC. - 250 AD.
Dimensions: 23.8 x 33.2 x 12.5 cm (9³/₈ x 13¹/₈ x 4⁷/₈ inches)
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Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican and South American