Pottery female figurine

From the Pánuco Valley, Veracruz, Mexico
Middle/Late Formative Period, 900 BC - AD 300

Small clay figurines are relatively common throughout Mesoamerica from the Formative period (c. 2400 BC - AD 300) to the sixteenth century. Female figurines dating to the Formative period have been found at sites such as Chupícuaro in West Mexico, Tlatilco in the Central Highlands and El Prisco and Pánuco in the northern Gulf Lowlands, to name a few.

Most figurines found in archaeological excavations in Mesoamerica come from households or refuse areas, although they have occasionally been found in burials and caches. They are usually modelled by hand, with incised decoration used to outline features. The elongated torsos often contrast with the round lower part of the body. Like most of the figurines, this example appears in the nude with incised eyes, mouth, hair, navel and sexual attributes. The elongated head may indicate cranial deformation, a common practice in the Gulf Coast which later extended to the Central Highlands. The figurines are sometimes painted with mineral and vegetable pigments. Body ornaments such as earplugs, necklaces and bracelets, are rendered using an appliqué technique.

The cultural chronology of the northern Gulf Lowlands is not yet well defined, but similar female figurines have been found at El Prisco that have been attributed to the Middle/Late Formative period.

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More information


G.F. Ekholm, 'Excavations at Tampico and Panuco in the Huasteca, Mexico', Anthropological Papers of the, 38:5 (1944)

S.T. Evans and D.L. Webster (eds.), Archaeology of ancient Mexico (New York and London, Garland Publishing, 2001)

C. McEwan, Ancient Mexico in the British (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)


Height: 8.400 cm

Museum number

AOA 1936 RWB 15


Loaned by R. Wright Barker


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