This seated female figure comes from the
Guanacaste-Nicoya polychrome tradition, the
Galo polychrome style. Its mirror-bright
burnished surfaces are technically unsurpassed
by any Pre-Columbian pottery, and yellows, reds,
oranges, creams, maroons, and blacks of the
polychrome decorations are impressively vivid.
Among such sculptures are the full human
figures with elaborate representations of tattoos
or body paint. Such a brilliant polychrome
tradition represents an important social
dimension; when the northern trade network
that brought jade, slate backed pyrite mirrors,
foreign ceramics, and other luxury goods, the
Nicoyans responded by producing their own
special purpose pottery. Inspired by northern
models, it also incorporated local and southern
elements, forming a dazzling hybrid style that
was traded around Central America and southern
Meso-America in the centuries to come.
Elaborately decorated with colors and patterns,
this sculpted female sits proudly, like a dignified
noble woman. A fine example of Galo
polychrome figures, she provides a wealth of
ethnographic detail because of the realistic style.
Her flat coiffure, decorated loincloth, earspools,
and body painting or tattooing are all vividly
shown. Moreover, the decorative painting around
her realistic eyes and her nose accentuates the
sculptural quality and drama of her bold face.
With her face held up straight and her hands
firmly placed on her thighs, this woman appears
regal and goddess-like, demanding our
attention with her physical presence.