House Group, 200 B.C.-A.D. 300
H. 18 1/2 in.
The Nayarit people of Mexico lived in harmony with their natural surroundings,
in a close community marked by a strong sense of unity with other
people. So important was this comfortable environment that the Nayarit
people sought to continue it even after death.
| Studying this sculpture has helped archaeologists
discover what the everyday life of the ancient western Mexicans was
like. It consists of a two-story house occupied by several men, women,
and children. Five figures sit under the roof on the top story. The
figure at the back faces out-of-doors, while the other four are gathered
around a round bowl of food (perhaps corn). Two of these people are
eating with their hands raised to their mouths, while the other two
gaze on with their elbows resting on their laps. Outside on the roof
of the bottom story are three more figures sitting on their knees.
Two are children, one resting and the other being embraced by the
adult seated nearby.
House Group, detail
| Two stairways along the sides of the house lead to the
two - roomed area below. There, a male figure wearing a cone-shaped
hat leans against the doorway to the back room, while two women turn
toward him and the container of food that lies at their feet. Archaeologists
now think that the two - story house represents how the Nayarit view
the world. In this house the dwelling of the dead is thought to be
the bottom floor and is a mirror image of the realm of those living
above. The dead and the living exist in the same space, with only
a fragile barrier between them, and participate in the same kinds
The House Group is built with clay by hand. The bodies
and heads of the people are made with flat slabs of clay which are
pinched to form faces and other details. Short coiled (rolled out)
pieces of clay are attached to the body to form the arms and legs.
This results in figures with oval-shaped heads, hatchet - like noses
and flat chests. Each person looks as though it has an individual
personality. Some have facial tattoos and other body decoration.
The house is also decorated with geometric patterns. This colorful
decoration reflects the lively spirit of the Nayarit and their faith
in both this world and the next.
scientist who studies the life and customs of past cultures by examining
their material remains, usually artifacts such as utensils, stone
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