Crafting the Body Beautiful

Geoffrey G. McCafferty and Sharisse D. McCafferty

in Mesoamerican Figurines

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033303
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039350 | DOI:
Crafting the Body Beautiful

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In agency-based archaeology, a theoretical trend fosters a great interest in how the human body serves as a venue for negotiating and expressing social identity. Archaeological evidence may thus be used as a means for deducing relevant information when adopting a diachronic point of view. Utilizing this approach proves to be effective in looking at the various aspects of body image from the Early Postclassic Sapoá phase site's material culture found in Santa Isabel, Nicaragua. The human body, according to Erica Reisher and Kathryn Koo's review article, served as an agent and as a symbol since it was recognized as a “conduit of social meaning.” A common symbol set is thus needed to decipher the meanings of a symbolic body. This chapter attempts to examine the various aspects of the “body beautiful” in skeletal remains, dress and adornment, and representational art.

Keywords: representational art; body beautiful; skeletal remains; dress and adornment; Santa Isabel; Nicaragua; social meaning; human body; social identity

Chapter.  5854 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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