A Study of Small Sculpture from the Mesoamerican Societies Essay

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     The Olmec, Maya, and Aztec were dominating societies of Mesoamerica, rich in culture, community, and art. While life may not be completely interpretable yet, much in known about how these societies were constructed, and how their religion dominated their lives. Much is generally made of their massive stonework, their ceremonial complexes, and ritual sacrifices, but their small jade, ceramic, and stone sculpture deserves as much attention as the works of much larger size have received.      The Olmec were thought to have set many of the patterns seen in later cultures throughout Mesoamerica.1 San Lorenzo, the oldest known Olmec building site, as of the time of the Brittanica article,…show more content…
She has remarkably realistic features and proportions, as well as a short, but feminine hairstyle, womanly hips, and an expression of empowerment. Maybe this was not what the artist was trying to express, but the meaning changes through history, and yet, this piece can still relate to issues in society today (fig. 5).      Ceremonial complexes were popular during the Middle Formative period for many Mesoamerican cultures. A wide array of Olmec style ritual sculptured objects, created from jade or other green stones, were found to be seated or standing figures, zoomorphic creatures, masks, and other small objects.7      Figure 6 is a small, carved figure depicting a supernatural being riding a jaguar, as it is so named for this. At only 8.9 cm tall, this piece is gray-green jadeite with a milky patina and a vain of softer mineral. Based on similar depictions of this being and the jaguar elsewhere in Olmec art, the creature could represent the ruler’s animal spirit companion. It is “his means of locomotion in his trance journey into the other world.”8 While F. Kent Reilly’s opinion is of this object having ritualistic ties to Shamanism, this, in theory, is only speculation, as such an object could have been produced purely for the enjoyment of the Olmec

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