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Standing Female Figure (work of art)

Artwork Info

circa 200 B.C.E.–300 C.E.
West Mexican (Nayarit state)
21 inches (53.3 centimeters)
Ceramic, Sculpture


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Levin

Ancient American

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • This ceramic female figure is embellished with jewelry and patterned clothing made from modeled clay. She is holding a drinking vessel that is also made of clay. 
  • The figure is from Nayarit, a small state in western Mexico.
  • Sometimes artists made multiple copies of figures to show several people in a family line. The Standing Male Figure may have been part of this group. Most likely, this figure was the emblem or symbol of a specific, powerful Nayarit lineage. 
  • The deep underground burial chambers used by the Nayarit helped protect these ceramic figures from extreme weather and preserved them in the condition they are in today.

Learn More

Sculptures such as these were created as tomb offerings and may have represented the deceased person’s relatives or ancestors. The people of Nayarit dug deep shaft tombs to house the dead. Multiple skeletons found in the large chambers of shaft tombs suggest that each tomb may have been a family crypt, or burial site. This female figure holds a small bowl, possibly for presenting a food offering. Note the designs on the edge of her wrap skirt. The artist reproduced a woven pattern by modeling the clay rather than painting details on the figure.

tags: family, ritual, anthropology, function, women

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  • A ceramic figure of a woman holding a cup and wearing jewelry and a skirt.

    Standing Female Figure by Unknown Nayarit Artist

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