Alien Bodies, Everyday People, and Hollow Spaces

Elizabeth M. Brumfiel and Lisa Overholtzer

in Mesoamerican Figurines

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033303
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039350 | DOI:
Alien Bodies, Everyday People, and Hollow Spaces

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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

Chapter.  8463 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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