Standing female with hands on chest

1200–900 BCE
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General Description

Objects that are Olmec in style have been found in such distant areas of Mesoamerica as Tlapacoya and Tlatilco in the Valley of Mexico, Chalcatzingo in Morelos, and Teopantecuanitlan in Guerrero. The relationship between the regional cultures that made or used these items and the Olmec archaeological culture of the Gulf Coast, which is often described as the Olmec heartland, is more debated than understood. The site of Las Bocas, near the modern town of Izúcar de Matamoros in western Puebla, is also a source of ceramics in the Olmec style. Ceramic female figurines from this region are sometimes described as fertility figures. They usually exhibit similar features—a refined naturalism characteristic of the Las Bocas style, with thin limbs and distinctive facial features, often with various abnormalities. Physical deformity, a recurring theme in Mesoamerican art and the Olmec style, indicates a special connection to the supernatural world. In certain figures, social status is indicated through earspools and hairstyle, as seen in this example, and these often reflect regional traditions.

Elaine Higgins Smith, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2015.

Drawn from

  • Carol Robbins, Label text [1993.80 and 1993.81], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Seated hunchback holding mirror (1993.81) and Seated hunchback holding rectangular object (1993.80)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 38.

  • "Female Figure [Mexico; Las Bocas (?)]" (1983.424). In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006).