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Standing Male Figure (work of art)

Artwork Info

circa 200 B.C.E.–300 C.E.
West Mexican (Nayarit state)
21 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches (54.6 x 29.8 x 16.5 centimeters)
Ceramic, Sculpture


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

Ancient American

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • This is a sculpture of a male warrior dressed in a loincloth that includes a conch shell ornament. He is holding a wide-bladed weapon in one hand and a bird-like item in the other. Detailing on the warrior’s head suggests a headdress. He has several earrings in each ear.
  • The similarities found in this warrior and that of the Standing Female Figure indicate that these figures were possibly created in a group. They may represent either a married couple or relatives from a high-status lineage or social group. 
  • A shaft tomb is a large, underground burial chamber that is connected to the surface by a vertical shaft, sometimes up to 40 feet deep. The ceramics that were found in shaft tombs survived for more than 2,000 years because they were preserved in underground chambers with the dead.
  • The Western Mexico shaft tomb tradition is a burial practice that existed in areas of Nayarit, Jalisco, and Colima from 300 B.C.E. to 300 C.E.

Learn More

Sculptures such as this one 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.

tags: anthropology, family, ritual, function

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  • A ceramic figure of a man holding a blade in one hand and a bird-like item in the other.

    Standing Male Figure by Unknown Nayarit Artist

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