Charlotte Hanson, Class of 2022

Hollow Figurine of a Musician from Ixtlan del Rio, from Nayarit, West Mexico

Virtual Exhibit Video:

Music, Warriors, and Ritual Figurines: Life Beyond the Shaft Tombs of West Mexico


The Pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica, or Central America and Mexico, all share a remarkably similar world view, one that has been documented and studied by European scholars since the first Spanish conquests of the area. This shared cosmovision contains complex ideas which resonate throughout all aspects of Mesoamerican life. The objects created by the civilizations are no exception, and they are woven into the fabric of ritual and spiritual life across the region. The creation of figurines in Mesoamerica is a strong example of this phenomenon. In this paper, the Seated Musician with Rasp and Seated Warrior hollow figures from the collection of the Williams College Museum of Art (TL.98.13.4 and TL.98.13.5 respectively) represent a long-standing tradition in the West Mexican civilization that has become the primary source of information on the civilization as a whole. This paper aims to describe and reanimate these two objects by placing their symbolism, iconography, and use in rituals of death within the civilization’s worldview.

Continue reading the entire paper….

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.