Xipe Totec and Elite Domestic Ritual in Late Classic Oaxaca, Mexico

Author(s): Jeremias Pink; Ronald K. Faulseit; Erica Ausel

Year: 2016


Imagery related to the deity Xipe Totec is well-recognized in Late Classic Zapotec iconography, most notably on a few large ceramic figures known as "Xipe Statues." Unfortunately, the majority of these objects lack detailed contextual information, limiting our ability to fully understand their ritual or ceremonial significance. Our excavation of an elite residential complex has yielded numerous Xipe statue fragments, as well as painted and incised human bones, including two drilled mandibles perhaps originally worn strung around the neck as often depicted in Zapotec Xipe statues. These objects were concentrated around an open stone platform that likely served as a ceremonial space for the terrace residents. The presence of a small ceramic kiln, over 30 figurine molds, abundant figurine fragments, and a miss-fired effigy vessel, indicate that ceremonial goods were also produced in this area. From this evidence, we conclude that both Xipe-related rituals and the production of ceremonial objects were embedded within this elite family’s individual religious practice, rather than more public ceremonies held in the civic-ceremonial core of the city. We suggest that this reflects a broader shift away from collective ritual activities toward an emphasis on the renewal of individual elite lineages during the Late Classic.

Cite this Record

Xipe Totec and Elite Domestic Ritual in Late Classic Oaxaca, Mexico. Jeremias Pink, Ronald K. Faulseit, Erica Ausel. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404741)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;