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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Xochipala Art : Xochipala Standing Female Ballplayer
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Xochipala Standing Female Ballplayer - PF.0453
Origin: Western Mexico
Circa: 1200 BC to 900 BC
Dimensions: 5.75" (14.6cm) high
Catalogue: V2
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The name Xochipala has been attached to an early style of figurines and pottery unearthed in the modern Mexican state of Guerrero. Xochipala figures are noteworthy not only for naturalism, but also for their age. The Xochipala style dates to the Early Formative period of Pre- Columbian Mesoamerican history (around 1800- 200 B.C.), making them among the earliest works of figurative art in the region, contemporaneous with the more celebrated Olmec culture of the Gulf Coast. While certain scholars have tried to trace links between the Olmec and Xochipala styles, other scholars have ardently disagreed, making it possible that any artistic similarities may have derived from cross-cultural influences and not direct relations. While the Olmecs may have overshadowed the Xochipala culture in our contemporary popular knowledge of Mesoamerican history, Xochipala figures are almost universally praised by scholars and connoisseurs for their striking naturalistic modeling and sensitive depictions.

This woman, with cinnabar-stained lips and wearing a belt and headgear is a participant in the ritual ballgame. That ceremonial sport, played with a heavy rubber ball, required an incredible amount of stamina and skill. It is easy to believe, looking at this figure, that she plays to win. She stands, athletic and trim, as if shouting encouragement to her teammates at the other end of the court. - (PF.0453)


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