OLMEC - Tecomate
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OLMEC - Tecomate

Galerie Mermoz

Date 1150-800 B.C.

Dimension 10.5 x 13.2 x 5.5 cm (4¹/₈ x 5¹/₄ x 2¹/₈ inches)

Tecomate - Bowl in the Shape of a Gourd - OLMEC - Mexico - 1150-800 B.C. - Pre-Columbian

Height : 10 ,5 cm

Diameter: 13,2 cm

Diameter of the opening: 5,5 cm

Beige terracotta

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

- Invoice

This splendid container is a model of purity and elegance, realized by a craftsman who is a master in the work of clay. Behind its apparent simplicity, it is indeed remarkable on the aesthetic and technical level. Its perfect spherical shape, its fine walls, its glossy polish comparable to that of ivory and the homogeneity of its natural hue make it a complete work of art, recalling that the first great ceramic tradition of Mesoamerica was Olmec.


Before the art of polishing hard stones matured, clay was the privileged medium of the first Mesoamerican craftsmen and artists. The latter produced pieces of striking beauty, deploying a repertoire of forms and styles exceptional for the time.


These men modeled clay lumps into artifacts and vessels without metal tools or a potter's wheel, and fired their productions in an open air kilns, which implies a great knowledge of the firing technic of clay. The early Olmec’s mastery of firing can be observed in particular through the subtle cloud effects and brown and orange spots visible on the body of our bowl.


This bowl is named Tecomate, from the nahuatl  word tecomatl meaning calabash. Its wall is thicker at is center and joins at the top to form a tighter opening. The delicacy of its walls makes it an extremely light and delicate object and therefore particularly precious. Before the technic of ceramic was transmitted from South America to Mesoamerica, around 1800 B.C., dry calabashes were used as containers.


In the second millennium B.C., ceramics, particularly suitable for the preservation, cooking or serving of food and drinks, were domestic utensils. But the most beautiful bowls, bottles, plates and vases were also considered as objects of prestige, of worship and of offering. The exquisite quality of execution of our piece, the work of a particularly patient and clever craftsman, indicates that it is an object of higher value, intended for a person of high rank and used in rituals and ceremonies.


Artifacts of this type have been found in different places on the central highlands, alongside other ceramics showing stylistic similarities with Olmec art (sites of Tlatilco, Tlapacoya, Las Bocas). Among them, the ceremonial site of Las Bocas is one of the best known and most important. It gave its name to the Las Bocas style, which includes high quality hollow containers and figurines, including the famous Baby Faces designating chubby babies, with attributes dear to Olmec (elongated skull, cat-like mouth with drooping corners, monumental aspect). Although discreet in these regions of central Mexico, the filiation with Olmec art is without a doubt.

Date: 1150-800 B.C.

Dimension: 10.5 x 13.2 x 5.5 cm (4¹/₈ x 5¹/₄ x 2¹/₈ inches)

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Galerie Mermoz

Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican and South American

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