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Currently shown

Figure with Infant Features

Location

MEXICO, possibly VERACRUZ, TENENEXPAN

Era

Middle Preclassic period (1200-400 B.C.E.)

Culture

Olmec

Title

Figure with Infant Features

Date

1500-900 B.C.E.

Materials

Earthenware, slip, traces of paint

Dimensions

28 x 23.3 x 14.8 cm

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1973.Ac.3

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

This statuette displays many readily identifiable Olmec features: an elongated head resulting from cranial deformation, slit-shaped eyes and a trapezoidal mouth created through its downturned corners and curling upper lip. Often referred to as “baby-face” figures, this kind of object seems to have existed from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific, and from the Basin of Mexico to Guatemala. Fragments found in household deposits suggest they were most often connected to families of relatively high rank. The combination of both infant and mature features on a number of such statuettes, the almost systematic absence of genitals and the occasional presence of incised designs lead to the belief that they are not simply representations of babies, but probably objects referring to supernatural beings or concepts.

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