Pre-Hispanic Idol


Shown here are three views of a stylized ceramic sitting human figure. The head lacks facial expression and is a simple extension of a long neck. The arms are reduced to stumps that seem to represent biceps. The legs push forward in a ring shape. The burnished piece is painted all over in red. It was found during an archeological excavation in 1970, among sediments around the ruins and burials in the Painted Cave (Cueva Pintada) at Galdar, Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands of Spain. This is one of the most important pieces of the pre-Hispanic enclave’s collection of painted idols. Most of these terracottas take anthropological form, usually the feminine figure. They constitute a homogeneous but unique group among a culture that favors geometrical representation in its decorative motifs on diverse media, such as ceramics, fur, or murals. What the function of these idols was for the pre-Hispanic Canarian society is uncertain but could be related to fertility ritual practices. This piece is in the collections of the Museum and Archaeological Park Cueva Pintada.

Last updated: June 13, 2016