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Figure of a Seated Chieftain

A work made of ceramic and pigment.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of ceramic and pigment.


100 BCE–250 CE


Lagunillas area, Nayarit, Mexico

About this artwork

Large terracotta figures were made to accompany the remains of high-ranking people in ancient West Mexican tombs. Figures are often found in male-and-female pairs, likely commemorating the marriage of the deceased. Nayarit artists also depicted other major rites of passage, such as the presentation of a baby, the initiation of warriors and chiefs, young women reaching the age of courtship and marriage, and funerary rites. Such tomb figures testified to the earthly status of the deceased, qualifying the individual as a venerable ancestor-spirit expected to intercede with cosmic forces on behalf of the living community.


On View, Gallery 136


Arts of the Americas




Figure of a Seated Chieftain


Nayarit state (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

100 BCE–250 CE


Ceramic and pigment


71.8 × 33 cm (28 1/4 × 13 in.)

Credit Line

Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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