Sculpture and Figurines
Ceramic | Terracotta | Fired Clay
Secretaría de Cultura de la Presidencia
Import restricted since 1995.
Section 1a of Designated List in force since 1995.
Most are solid ceramic figurines representing women with broad torsos and thighs, and small or virtually flat breasts. These are portrayed in a sitting or standing position. The eyes and mouth were typically represented by jabbing small holes into the still wet clay (punctation), many times with two or three holes used to depict each eye. Although the bodies are crafted without much detail, elaborate coiffures are commonly shown.
Dating: Most Preclassic figurines date to the Late Preclassic (corresponding to the Chul and Caynac Ceramic Complexes of western El Salvador, and the Uapala Phase of eastern El Salvador).
Appearance: Often cream to white, but may also be red or brown (ranging from dark brown to tan). Usually of very fine textured clay.
Size: Most range between 4’’ (10 cm) to 8’’ (20 cm) in height. Examples smaller than about 4’’ may be perforated for use as pendants. Rare figurines 16’’ (40 cm) or more in height have been reported.
Important Variants: Some of the larger figurines are hollow rather than solid. Very rare examples have movable arms, with sockets set into the shoulders and separate arm pieces that were actuated by means of strings. Some figurines depict women cradling infants. Whistle mechanisms are very rarely present. Painted designs in black or other colors are very rare on these figurines.
Formal Names: Bolinas figurines (Boggs 1973a); Kulil, Xiquin, and Tat Complex figurines (Dahlins 1978); Quelepa Figurine Types 1 and 2 (Andrews 1976).
Example shown: Maya standing female figurine, Late Preclassic period.
For import restrictions in force from 1987, see History of Import Restrictions below.