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Submitted by mccaffer on Fri, 03/07/2008 - 2:22pm

Several types of costume adornment are found in Postclassic archaeological contexts, including beads, pendants, ear plugs, lip plugs, lithic eccentrics, and jewelry of precious metal. Beads were usually made of semi-precious stone, clay, or shell, and were fairly common grave goods found at Postclassic Cholula (López A., Lagunas R. and Serrano S. 1976). Pendants were usually made of shell, but are also known of semi-precious stone and worked bone. The most common type of ear plug was of baked clay, in the form of a thick disk measuring 1 to 3 cm in diameter. More elaborate ear plugs were made of semi-precious stone such as jade, crystal, or obsidian (Caso 1969). Lip plugs were made of ground and polished obsidian, and had a "T" shape with the bottom section protruding through a hole in the lower lip. Eccentrics were finely worked pieces of obsidian that were formed into "eccentric" shapes. The most common form is a tri-lobed "W," but zoomorphic shapes are also known. The primary function of eccentrics is problematic, but they may have been used to fasten clothing, or they may have been woven into the fabric as decoration. Finally, metal jewelry has occasionally been found as earrings, rings, beads, lip plugs, and ear plugs (Caso 1969). Metals used included gold, silver, and copper.

Ethnohistoric sources indicate that costume elaboration was closely related to status in pre-Columbian society. Brumfiel (1989) has also discussed the use of costume elements, specifically characteristic lip plugs, as a means of signalling ethnic identity. The primary research potential of costume adornment is therefore in terms of interpreting social identities such as status, ethnicity, and possibly religious affiliation.

The spatial distribution of objects of costume adornment is presented in Figure 172. The greatest concentration occurred in Unit N2/W1, in association with the group burial of Individuals #4, #5, #6, #7, #11, and #12. Since this was an intrusive burial, objects were found in Levels 2 and below. A total of seven beads and two obsidian eccentrics were found in this context. One eccentric (UA-1 #10246) was made of red obsidian, and was worked into a butterfly shape. This may relate to the butterfly nose ornament diagnostic of members of the Mother Goddess complex, especially Xochiquetzal.

A metal ring (probably copper) was also found, possibly in association with Burial #13. The ring featured a filigree face with earplugs (figure 173). Metal jewelry is very rare from excavated contexts at Cholula, and was probably limited to fairly wealthy individuals. A comparable copper filigree brooch was found in the Altar of the Carved Skulls on the Great Pyramid of Cholula (Noguera 1937), associated with the burial of an adult female.

Apart from these specialized depositional contexts, ceramic earplugs were the most common type of costume adornment found in the upper levels. Two obsidian lip plugs were also found. The greatest concentration of costume adornment from the occupation levels came from the trash midden, perhaps as the result of site maintenance such as regular sweeping.

Based on the data from UA-1, objects of costume adornment were interred as part of mortuary ritual, but they were also present within occupational contexts to the extent that they were deposited with domestic refuse. Earplugs and beads were the most common objects recovered. This evidence indicates that the residents of Structure 1 had access to emblems of status, although until additional comparative collections are analyzed it is impossible to adequately interpret relative social status.



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