In this groundbreaking study, Carolyn Tate demonstrates that these subjects were part of a major emphasis on gestational imagery in Formative Period Mesoamerica.
In , 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.
Early in the century of Olmec studies (dating from Frans Blom and Oliver La Farge’s 1926 survey of Mexico’s southern Gulf Coast to the present), George and Susannah Vaillant (1934) excavated hollow ceramic figures of infants and recognized a tendency toward infantile faces in other Early Formative period (1400–900 BC) objects.
These are fired ceramic tiles and patterns which will withstand all interior and exterior usage.
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.
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.
Two of these, images of the unborn and women, are subjects that scholars have recognized but either marginalized or interpreted differently, as Chapters 1 and 2 will detail.
Throughout Mesoamerica, people made ceramic figurines of women from 2300 to 900 BC, but after that their sculptural production gradually shifted to different forms, including, in several locations, stone monuments.