The Alamito Suplicantes: A mystery in Volcanic Rock

A suplicante
A suplicante

We know very little about the Suplicantes, small sculptures made almost exclusively out of volcanic rock. Although they are considered the peak of NOA’s sculpture art, we can only attempt to deduce who made them and why, as almost all of them have been found outside of their original historical and geographical context – usually by aficionados or grave robbers.

It is believed they were made by the Alamito culture, who inhabited the Tucuman and Catamarca provinces around 500-600 a.D. We know the sculptures are anthropomorphic, usually measure between 30 and 60 cms and show a characteristic dynamic continuity of the arms. This feature is unique to Alamito, no other culture has created similar pieces.

They might have represented idols or have been used as magic stones, to protect a family or lineage, but their meaning is still (and shall probably remain) a mystery.

Since we know so very little about them, all we can do is lay back and surrender ourselves to their expressive strength. 

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