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Female Ritual Performer
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Female Ritual Performer

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Description South-central Veracruz was home to a number of vibrant sculptural traditions. Among them is the so-called Nopiloa style, named for the archaeological site of Nopiloa located in the Mixtequilla area of southern Veracruz. Hundreds, if not thousands, of these striking figures were produced during the Late Classic Period, ranging from small figures to large-scale sculptures, most of which were made in press molds with some hand-modeling for adding accouterments of dress. The figures may depict ritual performers or intended sacrificial victims in the midst of a trance induced by the ingestion of mind-altering substances such as hallucinogenic plants, animal poisons, or alcohol. It has been suggested that these figures represent the Classic Period antecedents of the ritual practices of induced joviality and ecstatic dance in honor of the Postclassic deity Xochipilli-Macuilzochitl. These Nopiloa figures typically are portrayed with upraised head and arms held at the side of the head. Usually the right hand clutches an object that eludes identification although it has been variously suggested to be a rattle, a potent native tobacco cigar, or a hallucinogenic plant material.
  • Art of Ancient America, 1500 B.C.-1400 A.D.. Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe. 1998-2008.
  • Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville. 2012-2013.
Provenance Economos Works of Art [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; John G. Bourne, 1990s, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 2009, by gift.
Credit Gift of John Bourne, 2009

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AD 600-900 (Late Classic)
Accession Number
H: 15 7/8 x W: 9 1/2 x D: 4 in. (40.32 x 24.13 x 10.16 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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