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Chupicuaro, Late Preclassic
500 BCE-200 CE
6.03 cm x 3.81 cm x 1.59 cm (2 3/8 in. x 1 1/2 in. x 5/8 in.)

Not on view


This figurine is a highly burnished small solid female with breasts and a definite cleft in the crotch. Its black and cream geometric designs on a deep red background are common to Chupícuaro pottery and are stylistically similar to those of West Mexico. For this reason, Chupícuaro is usually considered as part of the West Mexican sphere of cultural influence, in spite of its proximity to Guanajuato, near the Basin of Mexico.
Remains at the site of Chupícuaro included about 400 skeletons, some apparently the victims of sacrifices. They also included the skeletons of dogs, thought by Mesoamericans to guide the spirits of the dead in the underworld. Many of the graves included cut-stone hearths, possibly used in conducting funerary rituals. Figurines were important grave goods, as were ceramic vessels and musical instruments of various types: ceramic flutes and whistles, and rasps made from human femurs. Although little is known about the culture in general, these remains indicate the rich cultural life of the people of Chupícuaro.

Benson, Elizabeth P. 1963 Handbook of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C., p. 9, cat. 45

Evans, Susan Toby 2004 Ancient Mexico & Central America: Archaeology and Culture History. Thames & Hudson, New York. p. 212, fig. 8.5.

Evans, Susan Toby 2008 Ancient Mexico & Central America: Archaeology and Culture History. 2nd ed. Thames & Hudson, London. p. 212, fig. 8.5.

Acquisition History
Gift to Dumbarton Oaks by Mr. Alan Sawyer, 1961.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.