Not on view
Central Mexican artists in the first millennium B.C. created stone objects in the form of yuguitos (small yokes, in Spanish) that likely served as parts of ceremonial belt assemblages. One of the finest known examples, this yuguito contains a human portrait in relief on one side. The face would have looked out at the viewers as the u-shaped stone was mounted over a thick cloth or leather waist belt, leaving the plain side towards the body of the wearer.
The delicately contoured face has deeply carved eyes which, like the roughly-pecked coiffure in shallow relief, may have once held inlays of other material. The figure’s lips slightly part as if to speak. Ears frame the face and large drillholes may have once been used to affix ear ornaments to the visage. An undulating line demarcating the chin echoes the wavy hairline above. Lightly incised lines descend from the temples and converge on the figure’s upper lip, perhaps representing tattooing or scarification.
The features of this portrait are consistent with Olmec style, epitomized by the colossal heads from Gulf Coast sites like San Lorenzo, La Venta, and Tres Zapotes. These stoic individuals are interpreted as leaders or ancestors. The yuguito form has been associated with ballplayer regalia based on later depictions of players, indicating that the figure may have been representing the ancestor of the player using the stone in play.
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