Body doubles: An exploration of representation in Lagunillas Style E figurines from West Mexico
This thesis explores ideas of portraiture in West Mexican ceramic figurines. In the scholarship on West Mexican figurines Lagunillas Style E figurines have been casually described as portraits. This thesis sets out to argue this point, validating the claims made by previous scholars. I propose that Lagunillas Style E figurines are represent a highly stylized from of portraiture in which the representation of physical likeness was negligible. Instead the artists communicated the identity though the depiction of adornment such as tattoos, and body paint relying largely on the memory of the viewer.
Body paint and tattoos not only convey the identity of the subject they also communicate the social identity, and the status of that individual. The placement of figurines in shaft tombs, likely tombs that contained the individual they represent, relates to their use in ancestor ritual. I propose that Lagunillas Style E figurines were use as a vehicle for the continued communication with the ancestors. The stylized aesthetic of the faces and bodies, and the depiction of adornment that identifies social status relates to the afterlife where social identity is the focus, not individual personality.