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Mesoamerican FigurinesSmall-Scale Indices of Large-Scale Social Phenomena$
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Christina T. Halperin, Katherine A. Faust, Rhonda Taube, and Aurore Giguet

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813033303

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813033303.001.0001

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Alien Bodies, Everyday People, and Hollow Spaces

Alien Bodies, Everyday People, and Hollow Spaces

Embodiment, Figurines, and Social Discourse in Postclassic Mexico

(p.297) 11 Alien Bodies, Everyday People, and Hollow Spaces
Mesoamerican Figurines

Elizabeth M. Brumfiel

Lisa Overholtzer

University Press of Florida

Several figurine forms—figurine heads, human “mud men,” flat-backed figurines, hand-molded figures attached to braziers, rattle-figurines, animal heads and feet attached to jars, and heads attached to flutes—have been found at Xaltocan, a Postclassic site found in the Basin of Mexico. Although these figurines may account for various genres because of their different functions and forms, they are taken together as a single homogeneous artifact category. While Xaltocan's figurines are not recognized in the context of practical use, and as the figurines are often broken, recent thinking regarding embodiment, especially thoughts about how bodily experiences and sensations constitute identity, may aid in our understanding of the artifacts. This chapter argues that Xaltocan people utilized different types of figurines to present the body in various contrasts, and the chapter further looks into how these contrasts represent different aspects of social identity.

Keywords:   Xaltocan, figurine heads, mud men, flat-backed figurines, social identity, embodiment

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