Levels of Hierarchy in Northern Mexico: The Color of Ritual at Paquimé, Chihuahua, Mexico

Author(s): Abigail Holeman

Year: 2015


In societies across the ancient world, incipient leadership and centralization were founded on connections to the cosmological through ancestors, origins, and other ritual practices. At Paquimé in northern Chihuahua, Mexico these ritual practices were expressed through the language of color symbolism. Color/directional symbolism is a cosmological principle that acts as a deep structure for societies in the Puebloan U.S. Southwest and Mesoamerica. Red, black, yellow, white, and blue/green become the language through which the world is created and differentiated. I contextualize the oft-discussed exotic goods found at Paquimé with the more locally available material to argue that color/directional symbolism was operative during the Medio Period. Emerging leaders at Paquimé used color to inscribed links to the supernatural onto the architecture, both public and private as part of a new political strategy during the Medio Period. Looking at the interplay between household ritual and community ritual elucidates how ritual action becomes an arena for political change.

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Cite this Record

Levels of Hierarchy in Northern Mexico: The Color of Ritual at Paquimé, Chihuahua, Mexico. Abigail Holeman. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395342)


hierarchy Paquime Ritual

Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;