Horned Figure, Shaman (?)

Date: 2nd century B.C.–A.D. 3rd century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica, Colima

Culture: Colima

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 13 5/8 x W. 11 x D. 6 1/2 in. (34.6 x 27.9 x 16.5 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Containers

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

Accession Number: 1979.206.478


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.