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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Chupicuaro Sculpture of a Ballplayer
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Chupicuaro Sculpture of a Ballplayer - PF.1969
Origin: Chupicuaro, Mexico
Circa: 350 BC to 250 BC
Dimensions: 4" (10.2cm) high x 2.25" (5.7cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: CHUPICUARO
Medium: Terracotta


Location: Great Britain
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Description
The remains of a once vibrant culture are now submerged under a lake. Fortunately, excavations in the 1940's on the site were able to uncover sufficient artifacts to give us an intriguing picture of people who lived there centuries ago. Chupicuaro was the elaborate burial ground of a village above the Lerma River in the state of Guanajuato, eighty miles northwest of the Valley of Mexico. The abundant offerings of pottery, jade, and figurines discovered there attest to a flourishing artistic culture. One of the most endearing types of the clay objects is the small female figures, or 'pretty ladies'. They typically show a naked female with short arms, extended stomach and a fancy coiffure or headdress.

The unusual costume this fellow wears identifies him as a player in the ballgame, one of the central rituals of Ancient Mexican life. The ballgame served as a metaphor for cosmic struggles, a contest with a life-or-death outcome. The stunned globe this man wears about his waist is probably a variant on the 'Hacha,' the heavy weights used to handicap the players. The flower bud worn around his head is a symbol of death itself, probably indicating that the game was played as part of a funerary ritual. Exotic yet familiar, this little figure evokes a distant and mysterious world. - (PF.1969)

 

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