Statuaries Of Nicaragua

Of all the archaeological sites currently under investigation (and the scores more waiting for funding to be adequately explored), four statuary sites stand out. The figurative pieces found here range from 1m to 4m tall and are probably between 1200 and 1400 years old. The best guess for construction methods is that they were carved using obsidian tools, sanded smooth, then possibly painted. While there are stylistic overlaps, work at each site displays its own distinguishing characteristics.

Chontales Statuary

These finely detailed statues with expressive features are taller and thinner than others. Main sites are in Boaco, Matagalpa and Zalaya. The theory is that they were originally used as building columns. Make up your own mind at Juigalpa’s incredible Museo Arqueológico Gregorio Aguilar Barea.

Isla de Ometepe

The squat, realistic figures at Isla de Ometepe are thought to represent chiefs and other dignitaries. Only a few examples are on display, beside the church in Altagracia. It’s thought that there are many more, buried over the years beneath the ashes of Volcán Concepción’s eruptions.

Isla Zapatera Statuary

While the best examples from this site are on display at Granada’s Convento y Museo San Francisco, there are various remaining pieces on the island – mostly at Pensacola, Zonzapote, Punta de las Figuras and Las Cañas. These figures show advanced workmanship and feature human-animal hybrids, probably referring to myths that humankind emerged from beneath the earth.

León Statuary

Including the Isla de Momotombito, this is the least-known of the four. In 1854 there were a reported 50 statues in this collection – today, sadly, most of them have mysteriously disappeared.