Date of Award

December 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

David Pacifico

Committee Members

Dawn Scher Thomae


(Smiling Faces), Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian art, pulque, Sonrientes


Sonrientes (Smiling Faces) scholarship has waned after a brief period of archaeological interest in the mid to late 20th century by both Spanish and English language scholars. Since then, brief attention to these figurines in the Remojadas style, or similar, has been given when discussing the Classic Period on the Gulf Coast and few direct studies on their interpretation or reinterpretation have been given within the last few years. The present study attempts to contribute my own interpretation of these Remojadas-style figurines and answer five major questions driving my research: What kind of rituals did Remojadas or other people carry out? Why did they do them? Who did them? How did they do them? How did the people and these rituals relate to other better-studied groups who neighbored them in space and time? Since the scholarship on the Remojadas culture is just as scarce as on its figurines, I reassess previous research on how the Remojadas-style Sonrientes figurines would have functioned within their cultural context(s) and what visibly sets their style apart from other figurine variations. A total of nine figurines from the Milwaukee Public Museum collection were chosen for this study. These figurines are all in modest condition and vary in size, type, gender, and decoration. Their study can be useful in reconstructing the rituals, ideological beliefs, and social structure of the Remojadas people by looking at more than just the Sonrientes’ smiles. My project here has the potential to develop a method that could be applied to similar objects that turn up in museum collections without adequate excavation records.