New Fire Figurines and the Iconography of Penitence in Huastec Art

Katherine A. Faust

in Mesoamerican Figurines

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033303
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039350 | DOI:
New Fire Figurines and the Iconography of Penitence in Huastec Art

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The Huastec people of Mesoamerica's northeastern Gulf Coast formulated a unique aesthetic of self through marking and branding their bodies, and this iconography is also manifested in sculptures, vessels, and figurines. While social identity, in addition to cosmological and religious matters, is encompassed by pre-Columbian Huastec art, the understanding of these specific symbols has up until now been insufficient. Proceeding with the ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and the iconographic analyses of figurines from the Museo de Antropología, Xalapa, Veracruz, reveal concepts of the drilling of fire as an aspect of primordial creation and ritual blood sacrifice. The symbols on the figurines appear to be depictions of divinatory insignia and various tools of penitence. As such, penitence as an aesthetic ideal and other penitential activities are remembered in the self and in representations of the Huastec body.

Keywords: Huastec people; pre-Columbian Huastec art; iconography; drilling of fire; primordial creation; ritual blood sacrifice; penitence; Huastec body

Chapter.  9662 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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