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Chupicuaro Veracruz
This phase of the Chupicuaro series tends to get away from the diagonal nature of the previous works. These artworks rely more on symmetry for their aesthetic reality, thus making them more frontal. Although the diagonal eyes are still used here and there, most of these are rendered circular or horizontal. The form of the face for some of these is still kept triangular while also experimenting with a variety of ways to convey a human mask. Some of these masks like features recall the ancient Teotihuacanos.

The additional name of Veracruz comes from one of Mexico’s eastern states which wraps around the Gulf of Mexico. It is part of what is known as the Huasteca, an area that covers central and northern Veracruz. It is within the Tlalixcoyan-Tierra Blanca-Remojadas region of this state that small clay figurines of smiling faces have been found. The Huastec civilization also thrived in parts of these other states: Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Puebla, and Hidalgo.

The Huaxtecs were contemporaries to the Teotihuacan civilization. Although Mario Castillo is not specifically relying 100% on this ancient Mesoamerican source for these works, he feels that some of these remind him of the character qualities found in these Remojadas smiling faces. This culture flourished between 300 A.D. and 900 A.D. It was the only ancient Mexican society that produced smiling faces. They certainly seemed to savor the joy of life.

Another peculiar quality about the Remojadas smiling faces is that they appear to be dancing in a trance. It reminds one of the Whirling Dervishes, who go into a trance as they twirl around in their ritualistic dance. Since Mescalito is currently used by the Nahua peoples of this region, it would be interesting to consider the probability of this “Nirvana” type of smile from the past as being a product of some hallucinogen used in a religious ceremony for the purpose of transcending the material world in order to have contact with the spirit world. Because of this, some of Mario Castillo’s Veracruz faces convey a hypnotic look, almost as if they were depicting the look of a trance state. Here, it is clear that Castillo is dealing with altered states of mind, going beyond the emotional states of his Early Chupicuaro works.

You may see actual Remojadas smiling clay figurines at:

Remojadas smiling clay figurines