Dressing the Casas Grandes Person: Medio Period Clothing and Ritual

Author(s): Todd Van Pool; Christine VanPool; Lauren Downs

Year: 2016


Casas Grandes Medio period (A.D. 1200-1450) human effigies are unique in the North American Southwest in that they depict primary and secondary sexual traits, making determination of sex possible. We consider the importance of depicted clothing (e.g., belts and sashes), personal adornments (e.g., necklaces and bracelets), facial decorations, and other aspects of dress. We find that Medio period symbolism for males and females was based on gender complementarity that combined the productive, reproductive, and ritual activities of men and women within a single symbolic and ritual system. There are instances of overlapping dress shown on males and females (e.g., arm bands), but also sex-based differences (e.g., women wear low horizontal belts across their hips whereas men wear distinctive sandals and elaborate headbands). Aspects of dress also appear to be continued from previous cultures such as the Classic Mimbres (AD 1000–1150) and continued into historic northern Mexican and Southwestern groups (e.g., head gear). Ultimately, we find that males are more elaborately dressed and associated with smoking and ritually important symbols. Females are associated with cloud/fertility symbolism, sternal decorations, and birds.

Cite this Record

Dressing the Casas Grandes Person: Medio Period Clothing and Ritual. Todd Van Pool, Christine VanPool, Lauren Downs. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405366)

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Spatial Coverage

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