What Kind of Clothing Did the Olmecs Wear?

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The Olmecs are believed to have worn little or no clothing. This assumption is based on artifacts, particularly sculptures, that have been unearthed at Olmec city sites and credited to the ancient civilization. It is believed that if the Olmecs did wear clothing, it was simple in design, such as a loin cloth or skirt.

In Olmec society, status was not determined by what a person wore. Rather, a person’s possessions and accessories, such as jewelry, determined status in society. Owning mirrors, in particular, denoted a higher social status because they were used as divination tools.

The Olmecs are a civilization that predates the Mayans. It is believed that the earliest Olmec city was established in San Lorenzo around 1700 B.C. Other powerful Olmec centers of civilization include La Venta and Tres Zapotes, located in southern Veracruz. Olmec art began to appear around 1200 B.C. and included terra cotta figurines and jade masks. The terra cotta figurines often featured men with elongated skulls. A ritualistic part of the Olmec culture was to subject the men to cranial deformation at an early age. The Olmecs had a complex social and political culture that is believed to have influenced the Aztec and Mayan civilizations.