Tlatilco Masked Dancer Figure

1100 BC to 700 BC

4 1/4″ tall

A very rare and unique Tlatilco male figure from the Valley of Mexico, near Mexico City. This piece depicts a male dancer wearing a mask and dressed in full regalia. He has a backsplash, which most likely was made of feathers in real life, a loincloth and knee pads. His hair is done up with long strands hanging down the front, possibly with ribbons. An arm band on each side completes his ensemble. Rich areas of cinnabar give it the red highlighted color. 

The “pretty lady” fertility figures are the more common variety from this culture, making this piece very unusual. This culture was first discovered by brick makers digging up the rich clay in the Tlatilco vicinity to make bricks for a growing Mexico City in the 1930s and 40s. They found these beautiful figurines inside elaborate burials and they soon exploded on the burgeoning art scene of the time. Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Miguel Covarrubias were the earliest collectors. 

Ex Robert Banks collection from Maryland. Collected in the 1970s.

This piece has its right arm restored as is very common since these figures were ritually broken before being placed into burial. 


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