COLLECTION D'UN GRAND AMATEUR
Post Lot Text
EARLY TIAHUANACO EFFIGY FIGURE
HIGHLANDS, CA. A.D. 300-600
The "pillar" statue of square-cross-section carved on all four sides, standing in a rigid stance with hands held in a striking position both bent, the right hand curved in an unnatural manner with the thumb hidden and grasping a banded kero in the right and probably a snuff-tray in the left, with muscular build, wide shoulders and short legs with rudimentary depiction of feet, the proportionally large head with wide facial plane, pronounced jaw line, rectangular rimmed mouth, flattened nose, square-shaped cheek tattoos, and elongated step-shaped ears, wearing a thick girdle-like belt with four centipede/scorpion creatures each with human head and twelve outstretched claws, a flattened, rounded cap, and tightly-fitted, long trunks covered along four vertical rows with a pattern of highly stylized faces alternating with framed squares ; in red-brown sandstone.
As the Spanish continued their conquest of the Inca empire's territory in the 16th century, they found the city of Tiwanaku, the once great urban site, located in the Bolivian highlands near Lake Titicaca, as a jigsaw of monumental ruins. The city of Tiwanaku, capital of a powerful pre-Hispanic empire that dominated a large area of the southern Andes and beyond, reached its apogee between 500 and 900 A.D. Nonetheless the extent of its remains testifies to the cultural and political significance of this civilization. Before the Spanish conquest, the Inca revered the site of Tiwanaku as the place of genesis of the Andean world. It was in Tiwanaku that the Creator God, Viracocha, ordained a new social order. Thus religion seems to have dominated the manifestation of power at this southern capital filled with monumental architecture and sculpture.
The Maillant figure is one of a small group of such columnar statues varying from 32 to 46 cm which may have been placed in chapels within the religious compound of this imperial city possibly as portraits of the ruling elite . All of these emphatic, costumed figures are based on the monumental anthropomorphic monoliths the most well known today being El Fraile(fig.2), Bennett and El Ponce, who stand in a similar constricted pose, each holding objects, and wearing elaborate costumes rendered as fine low-relief carvings on the body representing contemporary woven garments(see detail). The association of the kero and the ritual beverage of maize beer, chicha, and the snuff tray with its association with the consumption of hallucinogens points to the importance of these mind-altering substances in Tiahuanaco religion.
"These sculptures brilliantly concentrated the essence of the Tiwanaku elite's political legitimacy, their esoteric knowledge and moral authority. They were powerful visual statements that overtly linked Tiwananku's ruling dynasty with the mythic past.."(Kolata:1993, p. 145)