Feline Pedestal Sculptures, Cacao, and the Late Formative Landscape of Mesoamerica

Author(s): Julia Guernsey; Andrew D. Turner; Michael Love

Year: 2018


Pedestal sculptures featuring supernatural felines with cacao drupes projecting from their foreheads dotted the Late Formative landscape of the Pacific slope and adjacent Guatemalan Highlands. In this paper we consider the implications of the replication of this sculptural form, its role in articulating an elite agenda linked to the production of cacao, and its pertinence to sites of varying scale and relative regional authority. A similar suite of meanings engaged with cacao and supernatural characters persisted during the Classic period, especially in courtly circles. Yet the iconographic and social antecedents for these concepts emerged far earlier, likely between 500-300 BC. We explore the ways in which these Late Formative messages of elite authority, expressed metaphorically but laden with the economic implications of cacao production, proliferated across the physical landscape of Mesoamerica by the advent of the Late Formative period. We also consider what they tell us about the porous boundaries between cultivated and "wild" spaces and the ways in which they factored into elite rhetoric.

Cite this Record

Feline Pedestal Sculptures, Cacao, and the Late Formative Landscape of Mesoamerica. Julia Guernsey, Andrew D. Turner, Michael Love. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444874)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -109.226; min lat: 13.112 ; max long: -90.923; max lat: 21.125 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20027