Lineage and gender: Gesture, accoutrement and cross-cultural elements in West Mexican sculpture




Johnson, William Michael

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I believe that the ceramic sculpture of ancient West Mexico are a direct cultural expression of societal dynamics; my particular focus in this study will be the social, familial and political position of women, how their roles were dictated, and how the figurative sculpture relays this information. I will trace these expressions through the analysis of common iconography within these effigies. The wide-spread symbols I will analyze include poses, gestures, adornments and domestic items that all point to a vocabulary of social and familial position and lineage in the cultures surrounding the advanced Formative cultures of ancient West Mexico. The methods with which I analyze these symbols include the formal analysis of ceramic figures, art historical comparisons of the figures with those of other cultures, and ethnographic comparison. The roles that the women of ancient West Mexico filled can be seen through the figures they left behind, and I use the evidence to tease out aspects of West Mexican women's lives through issues of domesticity, social standing and lineage.


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ceramics, costume/dress, figurative art, gender, lineage, West Mexico



Art and Art History