This study presents archaeological analyses of Formative period ceramic figurines, whistles, and vessel appliqués from coastal Oaxaca. Because the Formative saw the rise of sedentism and hierarchical social inequality, its material culture is relevant to models of social transition. Hepp s analysis comments on ceramic iconography as microcosmic of the construction of personhood and ascribed social roles. The author utilizes concepts such as mimesis and public ritual performance to conceptualize the role figurines played in their social milieu. Hepp argues that artifacts were focal points for social dialogue, conduits to the ancestors, and vessels to capture the power of people, animals, and spiritual beings. Communal domesticity is proposed as a conceptual framework for Formative era society, in which even households were increasingly subjected to public interaction as first sedentism and then urbanism took hold in Mesoamerica. The study concludes with a hypothetical reconstruction of the figurines in the social context of the ancient coastal peoples, who probably included Chatinos or proto-Zapotecan groups living in the Río Verde region.