Arts of the Americas
The Olmec civilization (1400–400 B.C.E.) of Mexico’s Gulf Coast region produced small, portable figurines intended for ritualistic purposes. These three works display the characteristic Olmec sculptural features of a drooping lip and an elongated, flattened head. The winged figure and felsite figurine reflect the Olmec tradition of merging human and animal traits. Such composite forms relate to the ability of shamans, or ritual specialists, to transform themselves into animals. The wings represent those of a bat, associated with the darkness of the underworld. The figurine’s bushy tail and cap with feline ears suggest a jaguar, a sacred animal revered for its power. Jadeite and felsite were not native to Olmec ceremonial centers. Challenging to acquire and laborious to carve, they were valuable materials. The winged figure’s discovery in Costa Rica indicates the reverence for Olmec carvin
ca. 800-500 BCE
2 x 3/4 x 3 1/2 in. (5.1 x 1.9 x 8.9 cm) (show scale)
This item is not on view
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair Bradley Martin
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license
. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.
Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Olmec. Male Figurine, ca. 800-500 BCE. Jadeite, cinnabar, 2 x 3/4 x 3 1/2 in. (5.1 x 1.9 x 8.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair Bradley Martin, 51.197.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 51.197.2_bw.jpg)
threequarter front left, 51.197.2_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Small, carved figurine of a standing man with drooping lips and an elongated, flattened head with a curved, vertical headdress. There are incised geometric designs at the back of the head. The arms are bent with hands over stomach. Residue of red pigment visible in carved and incised areas of face and body.
Condition: both legs are broken and missing.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.