Where the Laugh Died: The Archaeological Contexts of the Smiling Figurines, a Comparative Analysis

Author(s): Maria Reyes Parroquin

Year: 2019


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.

The smiling figurines found more than half a century ago in Mexico's Gulf Coast, have always captured researchers through their enigmatic smile. Through these scholars' work, we know they were possibly related to deities like Xochipilli or Quetzalcoatl, linked to the main city of El Tajin and perhaps dedicated to the god of death. What we know for sure is that they were used from Late Preclassic to Early Posclassic. But, were all figurines used the same way? In this paper we present the result of our research focused on the contexts of the smiling figurines and how they changed through time and space in order to clarify their last function. We have identified a geographical and chronological region with a group of sites where the figurines were used extensively and in different contexts, both domestic and ritual; while the sites which are farthest from this region have less amount of figurines and only in elite contexts. Finally, we present a comparative analysis that explains the variation in micro and macro contexts, defying original interpretations of the archaeological record and offering a new vision of how the figurines were used for the last time.

Cite this Record

Where the Laugh Died: The Archaeological Contexts of the Smiling Figurines, a Comparative Analysis. Maria Reyes Parroquin. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452160)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -98.987; min lat: 17.77 ; max long: -86.858; max lat: 25.839 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23928