Las Limas Monument 1

From Wikipedia
Las Limas Monument 1
Señor de las limas 2.jpg
At highest resolution, the shallow incisions on the shoulders, legs, and face can be clearly seen
Material Greenstone
Height55 cm (22 in)
Created Middle Formative Period (1000 BCE – 600 BCE)
near Jesús Carranza, Veracruz, Mexico
Present location Xalapa Museum of Anthropology, Veracruz
Culture Olmec

Las Limas Monument 1, also known as the Las Limas figure or the Señor de las Limas, is a 55 centimetres (22 in) greenstone figure of a youth holding a limp were-jaguar baby. Found in the State of Veracruz, Mexico, in the Olmec heartland, the statue is famous for its incised representations of Olmec supernaturals. It is the largest known greenstone sculpture. [1]


Sculptures of headdressed figures holding inert were-jaguar babies appear often in the Olmec archaeological record, from the smallest of figurines to the huge table-top thrones such as La Venta Altar 5.

What these sculptures symbolised to the Olmecs is not clear. Some researchers, focusing on the symbolic cave surrounding the figure on Altar 5 believe that these sculptures relate to myths of spiritual journeys or human origins. Others find that the limp depiction of the were-jaguar baby denotes child sacrifice. [2]


Las Limas, in relation to the other Olmec heartland sites. The yellow dots represent ancient habitation sites, while the red dots represent artifact finds.

The statue is 55 cm (22 in) high, 42 cm (17 in) wide, and weighs an estimated 60 kg (130 lb). It was probably carved during the Middle Formative Period, some time between 1000 and 600 BCE). [4]

The statue was discovered in near Jesús Carranza, Veracruz, by two local children, Rosa and Severiano Paschal Manuel. Dug out and taken to their nearby home, it was declared "La Virgen de las Limas" and set up on its own altar. Word of the find reached archaeologists in Xalapa. After promising to keep the statue on display and to build a local school, the archaeologists moved the sculpture to the Xalapa Museum of Anthropology, in Veracruz. [5]

Five years later, in October 1970, the statue was stolen from the museum, only later to be found in a motel room in San Antonio, Texas; it had been apparently too famous to be sold on the black market. [6] It was subsequently restored to display at the Xalapa Museum of Anthropology.


  1. ^ Miller, p. 31.
  2. ^ Pool, p. 116.
  3. ^ These identifications can be found, among other places, in Joralemon (1996), p. 53-54.
  4. ^ Pool, p. 116.
  5. ^ Diehl, p. 58.
  6. ^ Navarro. See also Journal of Field Archaeology, p. 217.


  • Coe, Michael D. (1968) Discovering the Olmec, American Heritage.
  • "The Antiquities Market", in Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 1, No. 1/2 (1974), pp. 215–224.
  • López Navarro, Raúl, " El Señor de las Limas", Actualidades Arqueológicas, Número 10 Enero-Febrero 1997. (in Spanish)
  • Joralemon, Peter David (1996) "In Search of the Olmec Cosmos: Reconstructing the World View of Mexico's First Civilization". In E. P. Benson and B. de la Fuente (eds.), Olmec Art of Ancient Mexico. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art: 51-60. ISBN  0-89468-250-4.
  • Miller, Mary Ellen (2001). The Art of Mesoamerica (3rd ed.). London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN  0-500-20345-8.
  • Pool, Christopher (2007) Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica, Cambridge University Press, UK.
  • Reilly, F. Kent (1995) " Olmec-style Iconography", Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc., accessed March 2007.

Further reading

  • Joralemon, Peter David (1971) "A Study in Olmec Iconography", in Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology No. 7, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.