Classic Maya figurines as materials of socialization: Evidence from Ceibal, Guatemala

Jessica MacLellan, Daniela Triadan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine Late and Terminal Classic (c. 600–950 CE) Maya ceramic figurine whistles from Ceibal, Guatemala, as materials of socialization. The figurines are mold-made and represent repeating characters, including humans, animals, and supernaturals. Based on mortuary and other contextual evidence, we argue that they were used for household performances among adults and children. Figurines were everyday objects, used in ritualized and nonritualized activities. They were played and played with by children. The cast of characters represented in the figurine whistles was determined by adults and tells us about dominant ideologies, including gender and beauty norms. As agents of socialization, children could have reimagined or subverted narratives around these objects. However, the materiality of the figurines limited play and shaped social structures that persisted for centuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101548
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Childhood
  • Everyday life
  • Figurines
  • Gender
  • Households
  • Maya
  • Mesoamerica
  • Music
  • Ritual
  • Toys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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