Pair of Figures

Date: 1st century B.C.–A.D. 2nd century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica, Nayarit, Iztlan del Río

Culture: Ixtlán del Río

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 16 1/4 x W. 12 1/4 x D. 5 1/2 in. (41.3 x 31.1 x 14 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Sculpture

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1966

Accession Number: 1978.412.156


Paired male and female figures are common subjects in the ceramics of Jalisco, Colima, and Nayarit. Named for the modern Mexican states in which the works have been discovered in deeply buried, multichambered shaft tombs, the ceramic sculptures show aspects of ritual life, from ballgame representations to feasting ceremonies to apparently simple family scenes. While subject matter was relatively consistent throughout the entire region, style distinctions are present. The figures here are in Nayarit's Ixtlán del Río style, which is characterized by highly stylized facial features and thin, pliant limbs. Gender differences center on attire and activity, but both sexes wear numerous rings on ears and nose. Here the male figure wears a conical hat, a shoulder cloth, and a pair of short trousers. He holds a drum in his right hand and raised drumstick in the other. His companion wears a shoulder cloth and skirt, and her right arm is draped around his shoulder.