The cultures of west Mexico buried their dead in shaft-chamber tombs accompanied by a variety of ceramic offerings. The tombs, often as deep as fifty feet, were prepared in advance and signs of reuse suggest they functioned as family crypts. Numerous effigy figures representing family members or servants were placed in the tombs to assist the deceased as their counterparts had done in life. This large, hollow female effigy figure represents the Chinesco style, distinguished by an emphasis on naturalism and oriental-like facial features. Small red designs decorate the body, probably representing body paint or tattoos.
Artist Nayarit, Precolumbian
  • Kneeling Female Effigy Figure
Date between 1st century BCE and 1st century CE
Medium terracotta and pigment
Dimensions Overall: 10 7/8 × 6 1/2 × 5 1/2 inches (27.6 × 16.5 × 14 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mr. W. Hawkins Ferry
Accession Number 1984.33
Department Africa, Oceania & Indigenous Americas
On View Native American S131, Level 1 (see map)
Marks Previous owner's accession number painted on figure's bottom inner thigh: 879-W
the Wray Collection (Phoenix, Arizona, USA).
1984-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA 62, no. 2 (1985): 28, fig. 21.