This figure was carved and polished to create the figure of an animal, most likely a monkey, identifiable by the work’s tail and upright but seated position. This figure is especially unique as it gazes straight ahead, while many monkeys were carved looking upward by Mezcala artisans. The figure has a rounded head, drilled eyes, and slightly protruding snout, while further cuts reveal the legs and abstracted arms.
A great deal remains unknown about Mezcala-Chontal traditions originating in what is now the Mexican state of Guerrero due to a lack of archaeological excavation and analysis that is adding new insights into these unique cultures daily. For instance, zoomorphic or animal-like figures in the Mezcala tradition vary greatly in size and representation. This work’s facial style in particular indicates that it was fashioned during the later end of the Mezcala tradition. Believed to have been associated with mortuary magic rituals, animal effigy figures are generally believed to aid in prophecies within the late Mezcala tradition.
Spencer Throckmorton Collection, New York, NY;
Gift to The Jan T. and Marica Vilcek Collection, 2009- 2010;
Gift to The Vilcek Foundation, 2010;