Standing figure

100–250 CE
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General Description

The human figure was a popular sculptural theme at Teotihuacan (Teotihuacán), carved in a range of sizes and in a variety of stones. As exemplified in this carved obsidian standing male figure, the body tends to be idealized in form with a focus on the human face, and less emphasis on the definition of individual features, form, or expression. The almond-shaped eyes, flared nostrils, flattened nose, large lips, and open mouth reflect features common to the Teotihuacan style. The slanted forehead may represent cranial deformation, in which head flattening or binding intentionally alters the shape of the skull, a form of ritual beautification common among Mesoamerican peoples. The hands rest at the hips, and portions of both legs are missing. The figure wears a decorated headband, but further costume details are absent. Though the original function of such figures are unknown, both figures and masks were often inlaid with additional decoration, usually on the teeth and eyes, and often dressed for special occasions. This carved figure is both impersonal yet imposing, and conveys an emblematic sense of authority.

Elaine Higgins Smith, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2016.

Adapted from

  • Carol Robbins, Label text [1973.49], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.

  • "Standing Figure, 1979.206.585," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (Accessed August 15, 2016).