The state of Nayarit is located in western Mexico along the Pacific
Ocean and is separated from central Mexico by volcanic mountains.
The area is divided into two zones: a highland area in the mountains,
and a narrow lowland plain of tropical forests and grasslands along
the coast. Valleys with pine and oak forests grow in the highlands.
The highlands have a mild climate with plenty of rain. While today
the lakes are almost dry, 2,000 to 5,000 years ago there was enough
water to sustain deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds. Western Mexicans
were probably farmers.
Separated from the rest of the country by high mountains, the
village people of western Mexico maintained a way of life for centuries.
In other parts of Mexico, powerful rulers, deities, and priests
were considered the most important people in society. Gigantic temples
and pyramids were built in their honor. In western Mexico the people
lived simply and cooperatively. They believed in a spirit world
that could be contacted through a shaman.
Archaeologists believe the many clay
objects and figurines discovered in Nayarit tomb burials may have
been created as "furnishings" for the afterlife. The Nayarit people
wanted to make it as comfortable for the dead as it was for the
living by furnishing the tombs with familiar, everyday objects.
The clay objects were buried in tombs near the deceased.
Western Mexican clay sculptures are more realistic
than other Mexican art forms created at that time. They depict men
and women at work, at home, and socializing. These sculptures feature
plump dogs and crouching cats and people of all ages sitting and
standing, playing musical instruments or ball games. Often, whole
families and villages are portrayed grinding corn, tending children,
eating meals, or carrying jars and heavy loads.
scientist who studies the life and customs of past cultures by examining
their material remains, usually artifacts such as utensils, stone
style of art that represent nature accurately as seen by the human
holy man or woman who has contact with the gods or spirits.
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