- 1200–400 BCE
The carved stone images Olmec kings wore on their foreheads and chests projected supernatural power. Rulers also portrayed themselves in the form of small greenstone figures, such as this carved jadeite figurine fragment that depicts a standing man. Small holes on the earlobes and finely incised lines indicate the figure wears a loincloth, but further costume details are absent. Both hands and legs have been damaged and may have originally exhibited further detail. The almond-shaped eyes, flared nostrils, flattened nose, large lips, and down-turned mouth are common facial features in Olmec figurines. As these features are more human-like than supernatural, this image may represent an ancestor or the king himself. The elongated forehead is a sign of cranial deformation, in which head flattening or binding intentionally alters the shape of the skull, a form of ritual beautification common among the Olmec and other Mesoamerican peoples. Objects such as these often accompanied the king on his journey through death to the otherworld.
Carol Robbins, Label text [1968.20], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.
Carol Robbins, Label text [1973.25], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.
F. Kent Reilly, PhD, DMA unpublished material [1973.17], 1992.