Title: Human Effigy
Date: ca. 500 BC – AD 300
Culture: Chupícuaro (Michoacán/Guanajuato, Mexico)
Material: Painted earthenware
Size: 14.5” H x 6” W x 3.5” D
Credit: Gift of Quintus H. and Mary H. Herron
On View: No
The Chupícuaro culture encompassed a wide area, including modern day Michoacán, Guanajuato and the surrounding states. Like many other groups from this region and time, the Chupícuaro had a highly developed ceramic tradition that included miniatures, plain utilitarian wares and even large effigies like this.
These figures are some of the most enigmatic and visually interesting figures from prehistoric Mesoamerica. Each one is created from red clay, highly polished and features the same pose. As with most figures, this piece depicts some sort of cranial deformation, which could be interpreted as some sort of helmet. It’s also covered in a series of stepped patterns that most likely represent body and facial paint.
The function and meaning of these ceramics are still unknown.