Oaxaca, Mexico:  Casa Museo de Arte Prehispánico “Rufino Tamayo”

The objects in this museum of art date from about 200BCE to about 1200CE. They include funerary urns, religious bits and pieces, useful items for food storage or serving and many other objects with unknown reasons for existing. Celebrating the successes of individuals or showing how to play a role? Many questions. Many…

Anyhow, all in this museum are from this eastern and more southern parts of Mexico, some of the most important prehispánic empires. Makes me wonder why this set. What do the national, and international museums have? How reprentative is the small set of objects in this museum of that very long period of time and the many millions of lives and deaths in a big geographic area? Hmmm… 

Anyhow, they are categorised here by type, sometimes by region. Some are small. Breastfeeding, for example is just like this now. I saw someone yesterday sitting after she’d finished feeding her young one but left her left breast out. No hurried hiding. And I said ‘the little one’ advisedly. 

Some are large, stone stellae, rather than pottery.

Dignified representations of men, now unknown but possibly once very important. Unfortunately the writing on the side is now unreadable. 

And they come in all shapes…

Why was this woman tied up? Who knows! 

 And then there are the dogs..

The same everywhere. Waiting for food. On the watch for interesting things and threats.

 Gods of ……

Well, every house must need a few gods of fertility.

And I think I’d take #1 rather than #2 who looks like a fool and not someone who might help with fertility.

Or perhaps people in each place could better remember successes in previous meetings or wars and show a captive, someone who lost THAT discussion. Nude and with his hands behind his back makes it clear who won that time!
Or fierce statues to scare neighbours or perhaps just to remember people at their best, the year they were the representative on earth of a god or just someone important, after death.

Thinking of death. The Day of the dead is very soon, 1st Nov. This celebration of the dead has been around for a very long time in one form or another. The God of the Dead is shown, sitting, below.     
And a very old skull follows. 

 And no point buying plastic containers. Get interesting shapes and sizes instead.

Missing dogs? Have a bowl supported by dog heads.

Or something much more interesting still.

Or, for a joke, your enemy with his head below his neck, finally.

Equipment used to flatten the front of kids’s skulls.

And it’s true, kids nowadays are just not the same. For one things, have you noticed the shapes of their heads. Way back, pre the Spanish arrival, some areas here knew what to do to get beautiful children.

Yes, flatten the front of their skulls to a higher posterior point. Very attractive. 

You will need to choose which type of equipment you prefer. 

Or this

Or this

Or this, the table version. Not easy. Don’t know many trials have compared these types.

 And the outcome: your child will also be beautiful. If you do it early enough. If it’s too late, remember to do your grandchildren soon after birth instead.

I don’t know how extensive this tradition of skull flattening was, nor, the duration of this practice. I suspect it was neither extensive nor an extended practice. It was done around Campeche, in the Yucatan, but I don’t know where else. Wonder how long it took to ‘do’ a child? What age range?


As I left the museum a long line of people, a procession, from a particular church, walked past. The women typically wore local costumes. The apron is an important part and denotes the town or region.

And women do carry their youngest baby in a multipurpose shawl until it’s a great lump. Then perhaps to keep it under control but, the kids don’t seem to run wild here or to need heavy, loud control here. 

A shop at the Zaachila market sold many of the decorated aprons, for formal and informal occasions. It’s the clothing of choice for many women around this area.

 Those up in the hills wear the heavier ones, brightly coloured sack like things. Would not be my choice. Designed like a sugar bag, albeit beautifully coloured everyday wear. Simple to manage!


One thought on “Oaxaca, Mexico:  Casa Museo de Arte Prehispánico “Rufino Tamayo”

  1. I’ll have the sugar bag on the right please. Oh dear, I guess you won’t have time to get it before you leave. Never mind. I wouldn’t mind some of those statues either. See what you can do in your remaining time.


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