Mexico; Nayarit (Chinesco)
Ceramic; H. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
Purchase, Pat and John Rosenwald Gift, Arthur M. Bullowa Bequest, and Discovery Communications Inc. Gift, 1999 (1999.272.1,2)
Paired sculptures depicting male and female figures frequently occur among the burial goods of the shaft tombs in western Mexico. Built beneath house platforms, these tombs served as family mausoleums and were periodically opened to inter the recently deceased. These two ceramic figures are fine representations of the Nayarit style known as Chinesco, notable for smooth burnished surfaces and painted ornament. These contrast with the stylized three-dimensional costumes and jewelry worn by figures in another local style, the Ixtlán del Río style. This coupleor "marriage pair," as these figures have also been designatedmay represent the ancestors who founded the family line. Their imagery often appears in the mortuary offerings of Mesoamerican peoples and is undoubtedly related to concepts of death and the afterlife.