Carved alabaster and polychrome huamanga figure of a man

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Image 28.jpg
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Carved alabaster and polychrome huamanga figure of a man

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A painted alabaster figure of a standing bearded man. Probably a portrait of a dignitary in European costume. Peruvian. Circa 1900

  • Condition: Very good
  • Provenance: From a collection in the United Kingdom

Measurements: Height: 13.5 in (34 cm); Width: 4.90 in (12 cm); Diameter: 3 in (7.5 cm)    

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Following the establishment of the city of San Juan de la Frontera de Huamanga in the first half of the 16th century (present-day Ayacucho, Peru) the region became known for its beautifully crafted sculptures and reliefs made of huamanga (piedra de Huamanga), a type of alabaster that was found in abundance in the area.

The first sculptures date from the 17th century; by the 18th century, images made from the translucent, soft material were widely used by both the clergy and lay people, in part because they resembled the more expensive ivories from Asia that were coveted by the colonial elite.

Peruvian alabaster carving is often categorized as popular art and craft. However, Huamanga stone sculpture merits recognition as a fine art in its own right, representative of a tradition that originated in the Spanish colonial period and continues today in the central Andes of Peru.