Figure of male with arms outstretched

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from shaft-chamber tomb in Nayarit, West Mexico

Postcard of Figure of male with arms outstretched.
© National Museums Scotland

Figure of male with arms outstretched

This figure of a standing man with his arms outstretched comes from a shaft-and-chamber tomb. It was buried with the dead as one of the grave gifts, and no doubt had symbolic significance. It is of a well-known style of pottery from the Nayarit region.

This hollow ceramic figure, with a dark red-brown burnished surface, shows a standing man with deliberately deformed head, small outstretched arms, large legs and arched feet. His genitals are not shown. He wears a headband, earrings and a nose ring.

Many shaft-and-chamber tombs were built for multiple burials in West Mexico between 300 BC-AD 200. Several pottery figures were deposited as grave goods, along with jewellery and other possessions. These figures may have been companions for the dead.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-104-664-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  A.1962.723
Date: 300 BC - AD 200
Between 300 BC and 200 AD
Dimensions: 13.00" H
What: Figurine, human
Subject: Figure pottery
Where: Mexico, Ancient Mexico, Western Mexico
Description: Figurine in pottery, coated with dark red slip, possibly representing a standing man: Ancient Mexico, from Western Mexico, Late Archaic Culture of Nayarit, Perequillo Style, 300 BC - AD 200
  • Gallagher, J. 1983. Companions of the Dead: Ceramic Tomb Sculptures from Ancient West Mexico. Los Angeles: UCLA 
  • Townsend, R F 1998. Ancient West Mexico: Art and Archaeology of the Unknown Past. London: Thames & Hudson 
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