Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Seated Male Figure

2nd–4th century
Mexico, Mesoamerica, Nayarit
Nayarit (Chinesco)
Height 11-1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Pat and John Rosenwald Gift, Arthur M. Bullowa Bequest, and Discovery Communications Inc. Gift, 1999
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 358
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 heavy three-dimensional costumes and jewelry worn by figures in another local style, the Ixtlán del Río style. This couple—or "marriage pair," as figures like these have been designated—may represent ancestors who help to prolong the family line through their guidance and fertility. Fertility imagery often appears in the mortuary offerings of Mesoamerican peoples and is undoubtedly related to concepts of death and the afterlife.
[Ancient Art of the New World, Inc., New York, until early 1980s]; Mr. and Mrs. Morris Long, Denver, CO, early 1980s–1999

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