World Ceramics: How was it used?

The Maya buried figurines, along with clay vessels and jewelry, with their dead. This figurine would have been set on the deceased's chest or arms. It may have been a likeness of the person or represented his social position. A great variety of people were represented in these lifelike forms, including dignitaries, rulers, ballplayers, armed warriors, priests, weavers, dancers, couples, and deities.

The dignitary figure is hollow and perforated on the back. It can be blown like a whistle and therefore functions as a musical instrument. Perhaps it was used in ceremonies performed for the dead.

These miniature clay sculptures tell a visual story of the appearance and activities of the people who made and used them. They have revealed more about the life, customs, and practices of the ancient Maya than any other artifacts available today.


More Information

Key ideas.
Where does it come from?
What does it look like?
How was it used?
How was it made?
How big is it?
Who Knows?
Additional resources.