They presume ‘recovery’ of Olmec reliefs

Mexico City.- Two Olmec reliefs of “contortionists”, which are actually portraits of rulers, were delivered to the INAH in Villahermosa, Tabasco.

The pieces were found in an address whose location was provided after an anonymous complaint, the federal agency reported in a statement.

Without specifying whether it is a recent action, the Institute’s representation in that State reported that, after receiving the location of the aforementioned property, it was visited by Carlos Giordano Sánchez, director of that office, and its deputy director, José Luis Romero. , who verified the veracity of the report and the authenticity of the circular reliefs.

Whoever owned them handed them over to INAH.

The Institute was made aware of these sculptures by Tomás Pérez Suárez, a researcher at the UNAM Center for Mayan Studies, who was informed of their existence in June 2019.

During the 11th International Congress of Mayanists, held in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, the specialist received images of these monuments that, due to their characteristics -similar to another circular relief that was recorded at the beginning of the year 2000, in Colonia Belén, Tenosique- , must have come from this region of Tabasco, on the border with Guatemala.

The reliefs, made of limestone and with an approximate diameter of 1.40 meters, present a similar iconography: in the upper part and surrounded by celestial jaws, there is a diadem made up of four corncobs and, in the center, a mirror with the so-called “Olmec cross”. ” (glyph that marks the attire of the elite and is associated with the figure of the jaguar).

Footprints can be seen on the sides, arms crossed in front and, in the middle of the scene, the face from which the “grumpy mouth” protrudes, alluding to the roar of the jaguar.

Sánchez, in a statement, indicated that soon, and according to the version of the person who had these assets, an inspection of the ranch in Tenosique will be carried out, where supposedly, they were found when leveling an agricultural land. This, in order to recover information from its original context and thus date them with greater precision.

Previous entry of the files corresponding to the Unique System of Public Registry of Monuments and Archaeological and Historical Zones of the INAH, the transfer of both monuments (each one of 700 kilograms) from Villahermosa to the Site Museum of the Archaeological Zone of Pomoná, in Tenosique, which houses the largest collection of this type of relief.

For his part, Pérez Suárez explained that these monuments come from the Middle Usumacinta region, located between the mouth of the Chacamax River to the Usumacinta and the mouth of the San Pedro River to that same tributary.

Among the known reliefs of the late Olmec period (all from informal excavations), five represent figures of “contortionists”: one of them remains exposed in the Regional Museum of Anthropology, in Villahermosa and another in the Museum of Pomoná.

“The five monuments have in common the representation of large faces, possibly of local rulers, who also practiced contortionism not in a playful sense, but ritually. By adopting the position in which they appear portrayed -which reduces the irrigation and oxygenation of the blood to the brain-, the characters reached trance states in divinatory ceremonies, and that gave them powers”.

It is possible, he said, that these faces evolved into Mayan ajaw altars, such as those at the Caracol site in Belize.

“Which tells us about the permanence of this theme for more than three centuries (495 to 790 AD). The word ajaw means ‘the one who shouts’, ‘the one who commands’, ‘the one who orders’, and in these Mayan monuments the mouth stands out, a feature that must come from Olmec times, especially from these circular reliefs of ‘contortionists’ that are portraits of local chiefs”.

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