Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"Smiling" Figure

7th–8th century
Mexico, Mesoamerica, Veracruz
H. 18 11/16 x W. 11 3/4 x D. 6 1/4 in. (47.5 x 29.9 x 15.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 358
This Smiling Figure from the Remojadas region of Veracruz is a hollow ceramic sculpture representing an individual celebrating with music and dance. This class of ceramic figural ritual participants is often found ritually smashed and decapitated. This bare-chested figure, with open mouth and filed teeth, stands energetically with legs spread and arms lifted as if caught in mid-motion. He wears a woven cap with geometric patterns, an elaborate skirt, circular earrings, a beaded necklace and a bracelet. His face and body contain painted patterns, evocative of body paint, including slight lines emanating from his lower eyelids and onto his cheeks. This sculpture evokes a festive dance or ritual accompanied by the rhythmic reverberation of the hand-held rattle and celebratory sound escaping from the figure's open mouth.
[Edward Merrin Gallery, New York, until 1969]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1969, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1969–1978

Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.

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