The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
IUAM Home Middle America previous next  
Collections main page back to thumbnails  
West Africa
Central Africa
The Americas
Middle America
South America

Native America


Pre-Columbian Americas
Olmec culture, Mexico
Three Ritual Objects, "Pulidores"
Early Formative period, 1200–900 B.C.
Stone, clay
H. 1 3/8 in., 1 1/2 in., 1 3/4 in. (3.5, 3.8, 4.4 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 84.12.1-3

These precisely made objects may have been owned by shamans and used in divination. They are generally called pulidores ("polishers"), a misnomer arising from an initial mistaken belief that they were polishing tools. However, their very careful manufacture and lack of wear, quite different from known polishing tools, have led researchers to conclude that another function is more likely.