in major museum shows – in 1970 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in 1998 at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ancient West Mexican societies over 2,000 years ago lacked any system of writing, yet created superb ceramic pieces such as this couple. The pair would have been created to honor ancestors, be they a married couple, siblings, or the founders of a family line, and buried underground with food for the journey to the underworld. The figures are richly embellished with jewelry, body paint, costumes and adornments and hold in their hands artifacts associated with celebration – the female holds a bowl for food or drink while the male plays an instrument. The couple survives today as a celebration of kinship that also offers important information about the inhabitants of ancient West Mexico.
The sale will also include a Rare Zapotec Effigy Vessel, from the Monte Alban II period, dated circa 200 B.C.-A.D. 200 from the Morton and Estelle Sosland Collection (est. $40/60,000). The vessel shows the influence of the Olmec people and their symbolism on regional interpretations. It depicts the omnipotent earth monster or jaguar-dragon of the Olmec people combined with early forms of Zapotec iconography such as the snout, bifurcated fang, and scrolling brows. Two Teotihuacan masks from the Classic period (ca. A.D. 450-650) will also be featured. The Greenstone Mask (est. $100/150,000) portrays an idealized face with elongated eyes. It is characteristic of the slightly smaller stone heads without ear flanges that served as the central element of the elaborately clad effigies used in civic and ceremonial events in the metropolis of Teotihuacan. The strong lime-green color of the Tecali stone mask (pictured, est. $70/90,000) enhances the idealized portraiture of the face, which probably would have been inlaid with shells or semiprecious stones.
Another highlight will be a Rare Veracruz Head with Cutaway Masks from the Veracruz or Possibly Puebla Region, dated circa A.D. 700-1200 (est. $20/30,000). Originally attached to an urn, the head evokes themes of duality and rebirth in its portrayal of the three stages of the life-cycle: the inner smiling face of youth, the wrinkled face of old age, and the bulging face of death.