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Date(s) - 02/16/2020
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

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Ceremonial Depictions of Bighorn Sheep Anthropomorphs


The Jornada Mogollon region is known for its rich body of rock art. Researchers have suggested that elements such as cloud terraces, masks, goggle-eyed figures, and horned serpents are associated with ceremony. Some researchers suggest that Mesoamerica heavily influenced the Jornada Mogollon people. Although hundreds of bighorn sheep images exist in the regional rock art these figures aren’t usually mentioned except in a general inventory of frequently found motifs. Nonetheless, there are some unusual anthropomorphs with bighorn sheep headdresses that suggest a possible ceremonial use. These images appear mostly in the eastern Jornada Mogollon as delineated by Lehmer (1948). Other highly stylized bighorn sheep images as well as artifacts and a few examples of bighorn sheep on Mimbres pottery also contribute to the evidence that bighorn sheep had ceremonial use. But where is the connection between the bighorn and Mesoamerica?

There are many cultures in the West and Southwest, including imagery in the Coso Range of California, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and parts of Utah, which include bighorn sheep imagery with similar attributes. Although this presentation will concentrate on the Jornada Mogollon region of southern New Mexico, West Texas, and northern Mexico, some comparisons will be made with these other areas. This theme may, indeed, be pan-Indian and the Jornada Mogollon not as heavily influenced by Mesoamerica as researchers have suggested.