Seated Tomb Effigy Xantile Figure


Seated ceramic figure with elbows resting on knees, hole at groin.

Post Classic Period, 900-1300 CE
Buff ware with traces of pigment over a stucco ground
23 x 15 x 13 inches
Accession date: 2000
Gift of Jean and David Colker

During the Classic and Post-Classic periods in Mexico, ceramic figures and effigies were produced for ceremonial purposes as offerings to the dead and rituals for the afterlife of a deceased person. A Xantile is a particular vessel that was used as a censer cover and modeled after the human figure in a rigid seated position with legs drawn to the body and elbows positioned on the knees. A bottomless cylinder formed the body allowing for the rising smoke to escape through various holes, such as the mouth (which was seen as a means of communicating with the gods), hands, stomach and sides. This highly decorated Xantile is much larger than the norm and wears a double-length necklace with a large sun or rosette-motif pendant, ear spools, nose bar, elaborate winged-headdress and leg and ankle bands with pendants. The ornamental fangs indicate power, which may make him the Sun God or Xochipilli-Macuilxochitl, patron god of flowers, dance, love and crops.