Pre Columbian Clay Statuette


Inventory Number: 101353

The Anthropomorphic figure is a hollow, cast terracotta model fixed upon a metal support. The figure depicts a person missing the lower appendages, with its arms bent across the chest.  The figure’s face takes the form of a shield, with eyes and a mouth formed by double horizontal bars in relief, a long nose, and protruding ears. The figure wears an elaborate headdress carved with decorative diamonds, circles, and points that spread across the neck and most of the back. The figure’s breast is adorned with an ornament made by circular carvings at the neck and with a great “bow” on the chest. The figure is formed out of a soft, gray, porous terracotta. The slip is light brown with traces of red paint. The figure is rough and unrefined because it was poorly sanded and not polished. The name Muisca (in the Chibcha language, “muexa”) means “the people” and “the human beings”. This self-given title designated the ethnic group who lived in the Plateau of Cordigliera, east of the Colombian Andes. The individual depicted by this figure was likely a person of rank, perhaps a chieftan, if the richness of his vestments and his hieratic expression are any indication. He is shown in the act of prayer directed towards the solar divinity, a predominant cult-belief  among the chibcha-speaking populations. Currently the Ethnological Museum is under renovation, but it is expected that this piece will return on display in the near future.