Some Observations on Hohokam Figurines: Implictions for Early American Southwest Connections with West Mexico

Author(s): Polly Schaafsma

Year: 2015


Hohokam anthropomorphic figurines differ in style, mode of manufacture, and meaning with most, if not all, other figurine traditions in the American Southwest which appear to be regional in their derivation. In contrast, clay Hohokam figurines have often been cited as evidence of early cultural relationships between southern Arizona and Nayarit and adjacent regions. Between the Formative/Pioneer Period and prior to ca. 800 CE, simple Hohokam figurines display distinctive stylistic norms that nevertheless link them to the slightly earlier and much more elaborate and sophisticated clay shaft tomb sculptures of West Mexico. Many scholars have postulated that early Hohokam figurines had roles in household rituals pertaining to fertility and the ancestors, the latter further supporting a West Mexican connection. These early parallels with West Mexico presage events between 800 and 950 CE when rapid changes in Hohokam ritual and socio-political organization included the appearance of ballcourts and trade items manufactured in the West Mexican highlands. Simultaneously new stylistic developments of the figurine complex with strong Mexican affinities are found associated with formalized and public mortuary rituals seemingly adding a political role to ancestor veneration among the Hohokam.

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Cite this Record

Some Observations on Hohokam Figurines: Implictions for Early American Southwest Connections with West Mexico. Polly Schaafsma. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396247)


figurines Hohokam

Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

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