4a. The incised pattern on the mouth suggests the figure is a Star God (2/2)

Why Venus, or the morning star? Venus usually appears in the sky for about three hours after sunset and three hours before sunrise, the latter phenomenon lends it the name “morning star.” Closer to the sun than our own planet, Venus appears as the brightest “star” in the sky and is a recurrent and somewhat stable astronomical presence. In fact, one of the earliest manuscripts to survive from the Maya, the so-called Dresden Codex of the eleventh or twelfth century A.D., contains a series of glyphs and tables recording various positions of Venus, perhaps recorded at the site of Chichen Itzá. The Maya language often uses the Venus sign to denote the long count of the Maya calendar - that is, their most accurate record of time since its inception. Other Mesoamerican cultures located in Central Mexico also watched and worshipped the morning star god under the name of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, who is often represented with dots around his cheeks, nose, and chin. Their spiritual beliefs suggest this god could have a fierce aspect of bringing great damage to people, maize (corn), or water supplies. The Borgia, Cospi, and Vaticanus B manuscripts from the time of conquest of the Americas all contain Venus tables and some with predictions of the days and victims of the morning star. The Worcester statuette, created during the much earlier Formative culture (Olmec), was perhaps created to recognize and propitiate this important deity. The portable sculpture was probably a powerful inclusion among a group of tomb objects meant to accompany the deceased into the next world.

4b. Oddly-shaped head reflects actual Olmec practices of cranial deformation
Previous Page Next Page Home Chapter Outline