Female Figurines of the Greater Nicoya Region 500 BCE – 1250 CE


This is an abstract from the "Mesoamerican Figurines in Context. New Insights on Tridimensional Representations from Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Female figurines of the Greater Nicoya region feature a 2000-year history of thematic continuity. During the Formative and Classic periods (locally Tempisque and Bagaces periods), figurines were often red-slipped, nude females in a seated, kneeling or standing position with hands on hips; these were occasionally elaborated with black pigment depicting body paint or tattoos. About 800 CE, however, figurines became decorated with polychrome paint consistent with the ceramic tradition of the Postclassic. These polychrome designs often included textiles, which have traditionally been associated with female identity. Despite notable decorative changes, the postures of female figurines continued with only minor changes, suggesting that their primary meaning remained the same diachronically. This paper will discuss the implications of continuity in figurine form and will also explore functional and symbolic significance. Further, we will consider the popular hypothesis that figurines were used in shamanistic practice, and examine a larger implication concerning the prominence of women in indigenous homes and politico-religious roles.

Cite this Record

Female Figurines of the Greater Nicoya Region 500 BCE – 1250 CE. Emilie LeBrell, Geoffrey G. McCafferty, Sharisse D. McCafferty. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452156)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -92.153; min lat: -4.303 ; max long: -50.977; max lat: 18.313 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24604