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 figure stands upright with his arms held
along his sides and his hands over his stomach.
While his arms are thin and narrow, his legs are
thick, and grow larger towards the bottom, as if
he was wearing leg warmers or shin guards. His
head is round with open eyes and mouth. Large
hoop earring or earspools decorate his ears.
Despite being thousands of years old, a swath of
bright red pigment decorating his forehead and
temples remains remarkably intact.