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SO THAT THE BABY NOT BE FORMED LIKE A POTTERY RATTLE: AZTEC RATTLE FIGURINES AND HOUSEHOLD SOCIAL REPRODUCTIVE PRACTICES

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2012

Lisa Overholtzer*
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, 1810 Hinman Avenue, Evanston, Illinois, 60208
*Corresponding
E-mail correspondence to: l-overholtzer@northwestern.edu

Abstract

This paper examines the materiality—or the mutually constitutive relationships between people and things—of Aztec rattle figurines in order to shed light on household ritual life in Postclassic central Mexico. By examining iconographic, archaeological, and ethnohistoric evidence, I argue that these figurines were actively used in household healing rituals concerning successful biological and social reproduction, comprised of the work, relationships, and attitudes that perpetuate human life. I then consider the physical experience of that ritual use by exploring the visual, tactile, auditory, and physiological aspects of these figurines. I contend that their visibility in workshops, markets, and the home presented an image of the female body that reinforced women's important roles in the production and reproduction of the household and society. Finally, the material qualities of these figurines reveal ancient discourses on the human body and experimentation with bodily representation in terms of scale, form, and material.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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SO THAT THE BABY NOT BE FORMED LIKE A POTTERY RATTLE: AZTEC RATTLE FIGURINES AND HOUSEHOLD SOCIAL REPRODUCTIVE PRACTICES
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