Rubbings from the site of Dainzu
Ruth Hardinger

The figures on the stones at Dainzú captured my attention because of their significance in the ballgame, their artTistic uniqueness, and the delicate carving and beauty of their complex suite of imagery.

I made these rubbing-impressions in 1992 by looking at and feeling the stones. I did not invent what I could not see and my intention was to connect with the ancient carvers, to feel their energy through the stones themselves, and to faithfully reproduce their beauty.

While the stones are visible on the site for anyone who goes by, they are so eroded they are difficult to see. Hopefully my works provide a means of seeing them better and a clearer access to these prime examples of ancient Zapotec artistic ability.

My work has a dual role spanning aesthetic time: it is both a contemporary artistic expression, through my own touch and handling of the ancient stones, and an archaeological record. This direct method of working allows me to honor the exact scale of the imagery on the stones. The making of these works was charged by the thrill of discovery, by being surrounded by these auspicious priests making offerings and by the ball players in the act of being tossed around by the trials of the game.

It is interesting to note that the players in Dainzú (except for Ballplayer with marching feet) all appear to be in the process of losing, but the imagery does not appear to depict the game being finished. This activity makes Dainzú particularly interesting and vital not only for its ballgame imagery but for its depiction of “real time”.

The theatre of these events is set in the powerful landscape at Dainzú, in the Tlalula/Macuilxóchitl valley of Oaxaca. Recent scholarship suggests that the stones at the site were probably carved before Monte Alban II. Except where noted, all stones are located in the palace facade

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Ruth's Show at the Museum in Oaxaca