Pendant: standing figure

100 BCE–250 CE
2 3/8 × 1 3/8 × 7/8 in. (6.03 × 3.49 × 2.22 cm)
Arts of the Americas
Ancient Art of the Americas - A. H. Meadows Galleries, Level 4
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the McDermott Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

General Description

Small carvings of human figures are a common sculptural theme among the various cultural groups of both Central and West Mexico. Lapidary artists favored a variety of precious materials for their small-scale sculptures, including alabaster, obsidian, jade, serpentine, and other varieties of greenstone. This is a fine example of stone carving from Late Preclassic (Late Formative) Colima. This region is known for a wide variety of sculptural styles from multiple cultural groups that inhabited this area of Western Mexico, though it is best known for its distinctive ceramics. It is believed that many of these small-scale carvings were included among funerary goods of the elite.

Smaller decorative ornaments, such as this pendant, were part of the larger costume accoutrements for nobility—often worn on the face, forehead, and chest—and projected both elite status and supernatural power. This figurine depicts a standing male figure. He wears large earspools and a woven caplike headdress, though further costume details are absent. Considering human facial features are only subtlety indicated, this image could represent the figure's transformation into supernatural or animal form.

Elaine Higgins Smith, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2016.

Drawn from

  • Carol Robbins, Label text [1968.20], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.

  • Carol Robbins, Label text [1973.30], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.

  • Gallery text [West Mexico], A. H. Meadows Galleries.

  • DMA unpublished material [1973.17].

  • Peter David (P.D.) Joralemon, "Human Mask," in Olmec Art of Ancient Mexico, ed. Elizabeth P. Benson and Beatriz de la Fuente (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., and Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1996), 239.