Reconsidering Olmec Visual Culture: The Unborn, Women, and Creation

Reconsidering Olmec Visual Culture: The Unborn, Women, and Creation

by Carolyn E. Tate

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Overview

Reconsidering Olmec Visual Culture: The Unborn, Women, and Creation by Carolyn E. Tate

Recently, scholars of Olmec visual culture have identified symbols for umbilical cords, bundles, and cave-wombs, as well as a significant number of women portrayed on monuments and as figurines. In this groundbreaking study, Carolyn Tate demonstrates that these subjects were part of a major emphasis on gestational imagery in Formative Period Mesoamerica. In Reconsidering Olmec Visual Culture, she identifies the presence of women, human embryos, and fetuses in monuments and portable objects dating from 1400 to 400 BC and originating throughout much of Mesoamerica. This highly original study sheds new light on the prominent roles that women and gestational beings played in Early Formative societies, revealing female shamanic practices, the generative concepts that motivated caching and bundling, and the expression of feminine knowledge in the 260-day cycle and related divinatory and ritual activities. Reconsidering Olmec Visual Culture is the first study that situates the unique hollow babies of Formative Mesoamerica within the context of prominent females and the prevalent imagery of gestation and birth. It is also the first major art historical study of La Venta and the first to identify Mesoamerica's earliest creation narrative. It provides a more nuanced understanding of how later societies, including Teotihuacan and West Mexico, as well as the Maya, either rejected certain Formative Period visual forms, rituals, social roles, and concepts or adopted and transformed them into the enduring themes of Mesoamerican symbol systems.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292742567
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 08/24/2012
Series: The William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 15 MB
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About the Author

Carolyn E. Tate is Professor of Art History at Texas Tech University and former Associate Curator of Pre-Columbian Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. She co-curated the exhibitions The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership at the Art Museum, Princeton University, and Olmec Art of Ancient Mexico at the National Gallery of Art.

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