Help us bring life to art, and art to lives. Make a donation.

Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Horned Figure, Shaman (?)

2nd century B.C.–A.D. 3rd century
Mexico, Mesoamerica, Colima
H. 13 5/8 x W. 11 x D. 6 1/2 in. (34.6 x 27.9 x 16.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
The sculpture of Colima is as stytistically distinctive as that of the neighboring regions of Jalisco and Nayarit. Round, smooth forms with little variation in the warm red-brown surface color characterize Colima work. The wide array of postures and expressions often make the sculptures particularly pleasing to modern tastes. Seated male figures that have a horn strapped to their heads, as here, were a favored depiction. The strapped horn has recently been interpreted as a stylized conch shell, meaningful because of its relation to rulership. The horned figures, however, have also been interpreted as warriors or shamans (ritual specialists). Conjecture might suggest that the figure, with its twisting, dramatic pose, pugnacious expression, and upraised right hand clenched in a fist, was protecting the tomb into which it had been placed as a guardian.
[Edward Primus Gallery, New York, until 1957]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1957, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1957–1978

Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 163.

Related Objects

Seated Figure with Vessel

Date: 200 B.C.–A.D. 300 Medium: Ceramic Accession: 2007.345.3 On view in:Gallery 358

Reclining Dog

Date: 200 B.C.–A.D. 300 Medium: Ceramic Accession: 2007.345.1 On view in:Gallery 358

Standard Bearer (?)

Date: 200 B.C.–A.D. 300 Medium: Ceramic Accession: 2007.345.7 On view in:Gallery 358

Coatimundi Pendant

Date: 2nd century B.C.–A.D. 3rd century Medium: Quartz, feldspar Accession: 1978.412.239 On view in:Gallery 358

Pendant Figure

Date: 2nd century B.C.–A.D. 3rd century Medium: Shell (spondylus) Accession: 1985.260 On view in:Gallery 358