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Tuxtla Statuette

Tuxtla Statuette

Object Details

Accession Date
1903
Collection Date
1902
See more items in
Anthropology
Accession Number
041871
USNM Number
A222579-0
Notes
JADEITE STATUETTE, THE SO-CALLED "TUXTLA STATUETTE". THREE CASTS AND TWO MOLDS MADE FROM THE ORIGINAL [see A222579-1].
From Olmec website (http://anthropology.si.edu/olmec), retrieved 2004: "The Tuxtla statuette, carved of jadeite diopside, bears columns of incised glyphs corresponding to 162 A.D. The statuette was found by a farmhand while plowing on a hacienda in Hueyapan in Veracruz, Mexico. Figure is wearing a duck bill mask. Incised glyphs decorate all sides of the figure. Dimensions: 15.4 x 9.3 cm."
The statuette was found by a farmer while plowing on a hacienda in Hueyapan, Veracruz at the beginning of the 1900s and has been under Smithsonian stewardship since 1904. The Tuxtla Statuette belongs to the epi-Olmec culture which succeeded the Olmec culture. Carved of jadeite diopside, the statuette is only one of a dozen epi-Olmec texts known to date. The Tuxtla Statuette is the archeological artifact that allowed for epi-Olmec decipherment work to develop. It displays the first epi-Olmec text to have been discovered which includes a Long Count date of 162 CE. as well as one of the most extensive and best preserved texts, making the Tuxtla Statuette especially critical for decipherment of the epi-Olmec syllabary. The language of the texts is the ancestor of contemporary Zoquean languages spoken indigenously in the states of Veracruz, Chiapas and Oaxaca, and nowadays highly endangered.
This object was on display in the National Museum of Natural History exhibit "Objects of Wonder", 2017 - 2021. Exhibit label identifies it as Epi-Olmec, from Veracruz, Mexico, AD 162, made of Jadeite diopside. "The statuette portrays a man wearing a bird costume, complete with wings, bird legs, and a half mask resembling a water-bird's bill (most likely a Boat-billed Heron)."
See Justeson, John, Pool, Christopher A., Ceballos, Ponciano O., Rodríguez Martínez, María del Carmen and Walsh, Jane M. 2020. "The Environs of Tres Zapotes as the Find-Spot of the Tuxtla Statuette." Latin American Antiquity, 31(4): 747-764. https://doi.org/10.1017/laq.2020.61 . Correspondence in the National Anthropological Archives documents that the figure was found on the Hacienda de Hueyapan de Mimendi, near the colossal head of Tres Zapotes. Archival research in Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology and the Archivo General del Estado de Veracruz, as well as interviews with descendants of owners of the Hacienda de Hueyapan and the statuette, allowed the authors to confirm several features of the Smithsonian correspondence. The data indicate that the statuette was found within or very near the epi-Olmec regional center of Tres Zapotes and within the township of Santiago Tuxtla.
Record Last Modified
5 Feb 2021
Specimen Count
1
Collector
R. E. Ulbricht
Donor Name
R. E. Ulbricht
Site Name
Hueyapan Hacienda
Topic
Archaeology
Place
San Andres Tuxtla, Veracruz, Mexico, North America
Unknown
15.4 cm
9.3 cm
Location
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
Object Type
Figure
Record ID
nmnhanthropology_8054511