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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Galo Polychrome Female Figure Giving Birth
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Galo Polychrome Female Figure Giving Birth - PF.3594
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 8.5" (21.6cm) high
Catalogue: V16
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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This seated female figure in a birthing position 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 brilliant polychrome tradition represent 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 is a dramatic and honest depiction of fertility and life. Like a beautiful mother-goddess, she encompasses the cherished idea of birth, life, and fecundity. A fine example of Galo polychrome figures, she provides a wealth of ethnographic detail because of the realistic style. Her flat coiffure, earspools, and body painting or tattooing are all vividly shown. Moreover, the decorative painting around her bellybutton accentuates the sculptural quality and fertility. Her open eyes and mouth clearly shows pain of giving birth, the process that produces life. Seated in a birthing position, her maternal beauty is undeniable. - (PF.3594)


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