Size: About 1.2 x 1.5 inches
This is a fragmented ceramic figurine of Aztec or Mayan origin, dating back to approximately the 7th to 15th century CE. The artifact was originally part of the estate of a Danish collector, who purchased it in the 1960s.
Aztec and Mayan ceramic figurines played a crucial role in the daily lives and spiritual practices of these ancient societies. While they were predominantly hand-shaped, there were instances where molds were used to craft them. These figurines held significance for women, who utilized them in household rituals and divination. Unfortunately, Spanish friars focused their records on the public religious practices, overlooking the importance of these figurines in the private lives of the Aztec and Mayan people. The discovery of these figurines in corn fields and near streams suggests their involvement in ritual practices or use as offerings. Interestingly, some broken figurines may have even been repurposed as children's toys.
The creation of these figurines involved a meticulous process that showcased the Aztec and Mayan civilizations' sophisticated pottery techniques. Notably, the Aztecs abstained from using lead in their pottery, distinguishing their work from that of the colonial era. These figurines were typically fired in an open environment, resulting in their dark coloration caused by coal soot. However, controlled air circulation and exposure to oxidation could transform the ceramics into vibrant hues of yellow, red, and brown. Additionally, the figurines were often adorned with a partially vitrified varnish, contributing to their unique aesthetic appeal. Centuries later, these figurines still offer a captivating glimpse into the domestic and spiritual aspects of Aztec and Mayan cultures.
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