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Pre-Columbian Americas
Olmec culture, Tlapacoya, Mexico
Bowl
Early Formative period, 1200–900 B.C.
Clay, pigment
H. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 81.32.3


"Olmec" is a name given by archaeologists to what is thought of as the Mexican "mother culture." It was centered along the eastern (Gulf) coast, but extended over a wider area. This bowl, for example, is one of a group of similar vessels found outside the Olmec heartland but attributed to that civilization. While we do not understand many aspects of Olmec religion and art, research suggests that the banded eye may identify the faces on this bowl as the god of spring, renewal, and resurrection.