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“Urn”: Figure Personifying Cocijo

Location

MEXICO, OAXACA

Era

Classic Period (200-800 C.E.)

Culture

Zapotec

Title

“Urn”: Figure Personifying Cocijo

Date

600-800 C.E.

Materials

Earthenware, pigment

Dimensions

20.5 x 26.5 x 19.5 cm

Credits

Anonymous gift, inv. 1972.Ac.32

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Contrary to the initial hypotheses that so named them, Zapotec “urns” do not seem to have contained the ashes of the departed. Often placed on the roofs, at the entrances, or inside tombs, they have generally been found empty, which suggests perishable contents. Sometimes made in series, they take the form of figures bearing the attributes of various supernatural entities. The glyph C in the headdress and the naso-buccal ornament of this figure associate it with Cocijo, god of rain and lightning. Those features are combined with several references to maize: the symbol of the maize field on the pectoral, budding ears of maize as ear ornaments and, probably, mature cobs – now broken – on each side of the head. With such allusions to rain and maize, it can therefore be seen as a figure of abundance.

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