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Figure of Authority
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Figure of Authority

Description Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description The conical hat, short-shafted spear, striped tunic, and multi-ringed ear and nose ornaments indicate a person of high rank and military affiliation. Whether this figure represents a warrior, a ruler, or other member of the nobility-or a combination thereof- is unknown and perhaps not germane to its semantic intent. Military aptitude was likely an obligatory characteristic of an efficacious leader. This figure's substantial torso and stocky legs and feet typify the Ixtlán del Río style. They impart a strong monumentality to the sculpture that is independent of the artwork's small size. These features also emphasize the impression of a person of considerable sociopolitical authority. The Nayarit sculptor used slip paint to render details of clothing decoration that must have been typical of the now-lost textile traditions of ancient West Mexico. Although no textiles survive from the Late Preclassic and Early Classic periods, costuming remains an important part of social identity among indigenous peoples in the region today. The focus on rendering details of costume on the ancient sculptures underscores the longstanding importance of textiles in West Mexico. Here the artist painted vertical stripes and geometric designs on the man's tunic and conical head gear in an effort to depict the elaborately woven cloth worn by this high-status individual.
  • Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville. 2012-2013.
Provenance Stendahl Gallerlies, Los Angeles; purchased by John G. Bourne, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1945; given to Walters Art Museum, 2013.
Credit Gift of John G. Bourne, 2013

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300 BC-AD 200
earthenware, slip paint
Accession Number
H: 18 3/4 x W: 11 5/16 x D: 5 3/4 in. (47.6 x 28.8 x 14.6 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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