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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Birdstone from San Diego County, California: A Possible Example of Dimorphic Sexual Symbolism in Luiseño Iconography


In this report, we document an artifact that merges phallic and vulvar motifs, and we offer an explanation of the artifact within the context of the fundamental concepts of duality and unity in Luiseno cosmology. We further suggest that dimorphic sexual symbolism, while rare in prehistoric southern California plastic art, is not as rare as once believed, but has gone unrecognized due to its abstract rendition. The artifact described here, with its comparative realism, allows an interpretation of meaning that might reasonably be extended to similar, but more abstracted, artifacts including perhaps the enigmatic "pelican" stones.

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