Aug 3, 2016
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Bird-Headed Figure Whistle, 8th–9th century Mexico, Veracruz Ceramic.

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Bird-Headed Figure Whistle. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Date: 8th–9th century
Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica, Veracruz
Culture: Veracruz
Medium: Ceramic, pigment
Dimensions: H. 20 1/4 × W. 9 1/2 × D. 5 3/4 in. (51.4 × 24.1 × 14.6 cm)
Classification: Ceramics-Musical Instruments
Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1963
Accession Number: 1978.412.80

The original caption reads:

This freestanding ceramic figure represents a mastery of Veracruz decorative style and a spirited, improvisational use of form. An attitude of power is conveyed by a wide stance, outward extended elbows, and hands placed upon hips. Opposing the solidity of this posture is the floating, asymmetrical form of a fantastic horned and feathered serpent projecting from the head of the masked human figure or bird-headed anthropomorph. This figure wears an elaborate collar and a loincloth with a panel decorated with an abstract design that can be read as a splayed anthropomorphic figure. The broad collar that caps the figure’s shoulders possesses a central element and is incised along its edge to depict a fringed border. Panels of scrollwork and interlaces and bands of repeated motifs characteristic of the art of Veracruz appear in relief on surfaces throughout the composition. The figure is actually a whistle and its musical function and the creative, whimsical compositions that inform the object give it an air of ceremony and celebration.

It looks remarkably similar to some Mesopotamian figures:

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Article Categories:
1 CE to Present · Mexico · Sculpture

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