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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Female Seated Figure
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Female Seated Figure - PF.4627
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 16" (40.6cm) high
Catalogue: V24
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Many of the Costa Rican ceramics have fertility or sexuality as their theme. The entire complex process of potency, insemination, pregnancy and birth are represented in art as part of religion and ritual magic. Art was used as a physical means to affect the non-physical realm and to control or influence deities and spirits. Yet, the fundamental human element of suffering and joy, particularly related to birth, must not be forgotten. It is this most basic fact of life we are reminded of in seeing this extraordinary figure. This sculpture shows a woman giving birth. Her arms are akimbo which gives greater force and stability to the pelvic region. Her lips are puckered as if she is hyperventilating, suggesting she is in labor and the baby is on its way. She probably represents a woman of the elite class with her elaborate tattooing, necklace, decorative headdress and ear spools. The sheer physical power from this woman is amazing. The artist has managed to capture the almost super- human ability women possess when giving birth. We can feel her pain, and at the same time experience her joy when the baby finally arrives. To capture such emotions in a ceramic object attests to an artist's formidable skills and to his empathy with the most important moment in a woman's life. - (PF.4627)


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