La Venta, Tabasco: a Study of Olmec Ceramics and Art

By Philip Drucker | Go to book overview

THE STONE MONUMENTS

Thanks to Stirling's detailed account of the La Venta monuments ( Stirling, 1943 a; also Stirling, 1941), it is not necessary to describe those found up to and including the 1942 season. In the comparative section following, the same nomenclature he has established is used. To facilitate comparisons of detail, the various figures of each monument will be designated by a series of numbers, the central figure (that in most prominent relief) being numbered "1" and the others in sequence, proceeding clockwise. For example, in the case of Stela 2, the central figure will be referred to as Stela 2: 1, the small figures surrounding him from 2 to 7 beginning with the one in the (observer's) lower left-hand corner and proceeding in a clockwise direction (fig. 49). The figures of Stela 3 have been similarly numbered: 1 is the aquiline-featured main personage on the lower right, the figure with the elaborate headdress facing him is Figure 2. The lesser figures are numbered from 3 to 8, proceeding clockwise again, with the nearly obliterated small figure in the center who carried what appears to be an obsidian-edged club, being 9 (fig. 50). The figures on the altars (figs. 51, 52) are similarly numbered. The main personage is 1, the next, in a clockwise direction (as viewed from above), being numbered 2. A modification has to be adopted for Altar 5, where 1 is the main personage on the front, 2 is the infant whom he holds in his arms, and figures 3 to 10 are those proceeding clockwise about the stone (fig. 52).

In the 1943 season several additional carved stones were found, and the following year Stirling found and examined a number of monuments that had been carted off from the site in years past, during a period in which the island and neighboring forested areas were being cut over for mahogany. He has described some of these stones ( Stirling , 1943 a), but to enable me to make more complete comparisons, has made his notes and photographs available to me. They will be described briefly in the present section.

The following numbers are applied to them. Monuments 8 and 9 are the two figures at present in Villahermosa and Comalcalco. Monuments 10 and 11 are those situated at the ruins of Finca San Vicente. Stirling ascertained that all these four came originally from the La Venta region, and he and I both suspect that they may quite well have come from Complex A; some of them at least certainly did, on the basis of local reports. Monument 12 is the monkey figure from the main trench across A-1 dug in 1943. Monument 13 is the short block of stone with a figure carved on its flap top, from farther north in the same excavation, and Monument 14 is the cylinder perforated along its

-173-

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La Venta, Tabasco: a Study of Olmec Ceramics and Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Letter of Transmittal ii
  • Contents iii
  • Illustrations v
  • Foreword ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I: Excavations and Artifacts 4
  • Structural Investigations in 1943 34
  • The Ceramics of La Venta 80
  • Part II: the Sculptor's Art 152
  • The Stone Monuments 173
  • Stylistic Characters of the Sculptures 185
  • Summary 204
  • Appendix - Technological Analyses 234
  • Bibliography 241
  • Index 249
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