This polychrome female standing figure is ceramic painted in red, yellow, and black. The figure is notable for its larger-than-life head or headdress, small eyes gazing ahead, earrings, and a garment covering parts of her lower body. The work is perhaps most distinguished by the baby cradled in the figure’s arms, being nursed, representing perhaps a particular mother and infant, or it could have more generally been associated with fertility.
This figure is associated with tradition known as the shaft tomb burial culture in western Mexico. It may be associated with fertility and the cycles of life and death broadly or may be linked to the tomb of a particular individual or group. While many of these sites were looted over the past century, scholars from different disciplines are slowly piecing together information about these cultures.
[Dave DeRoche, Art of Africa, Oceania & The Americas, Piedmont, CA];