Figure Vessel

Date: 3rd–1st century B.C.

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica, Michoacan

Culture: Chupicuaro

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Containers

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.206.606


The bold geometric patterns in red, black, and white are characteristic of works in Chupicuaro style. Known from a region in the western state of Guanajuato that was flooded when a large dam was built in the late 1940s, Chupicuaro ceramic figures merge human and vessel forms in a manner well illustrated here. The figure's arms appear winglike—no fingers are indicated—and they may have functioned as handles. The feet have been stretched out to form the base of the entire vessel. The striking step-fret pattern is continuous on the figure's chest and back. While such renditions are traditionally interpreted as textiles, they cover Chupicuaro figures so completely that body paint may be represented.