2a. Sophisticated art in an early age (1/3)

“Olmec” is sometimes used as a name for an artistic style of Mesoamerican sculptures, often characterized by smooth, anatomically curved surfaces that frequently transcend the hard stone from which they are cut. Olmec craftsmen used sawing, drilling, and abrasion (but no chisel-carving) to work the hard, jadeite stone (jadeite is one of the minerals recognized as the stone jade, and ranges in tone from white to dark green). Olmec clay sculptures, which were easily shaped by hand, are often even more life-like in their rounded contours and expressions. Pear-like heads, almond-shaped eyes and curved upper lips are stylistic conventions frequently found in Olmec figures.

Image: detail of Standing Male Statuette, Middle Formative Olmec, B-14 - Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Washington D.C. (plate 8 in Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks)

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