Seated Tomb Effigy 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


Visual Arts

Grade Range



Critical analysis


Museum trip


Personal Connection worksheet

About the Artist

Unknown artist

Learning Goal

To use critical analysis to describe the characteristics of the Maya sculpture Seated Tomb Effigy Xantile Figure.

I Can Statement

I can use critical analysis to describe the characteristics of the Mayan sculpture Seated Tomb Effigy Xantile Figure.


Critical analysis, texture, facial, realistic, abstract, effigy, earthenware, Mayan, Mesoamerican


  • Define and discuss critical analysis.
  • Introduce/review and discuss the vocabulary.
  • Point out that the artist is unknown.
  • Elicit information about Mexico during the Maya civilization (location, language, and climate).
  • Briefly discuss the concepts of realistic and abstract art.
  • Discuss whether the sculpture is more realistic or more abstract.
  • Have the class describe the features of the statue (size, shape, color).
  • Discuss the physical attributes of the figure (facial features, head shape, body).
  • What do you think the Tomb Effigy Xantile Figure represents (worship, memorial, war)?
  • What do you suppose was the purpose of creating this statue?
  • Discuss texture and have the class give a description (smooth, rough, thick, soft, or hard).
  • Elicit the moods evoked by the statue (happy, sad, serious, angry, or calm).
  • Ask for a description of the lines observed (straight, curvy, diagonal).
  • Have the viewers describe the shapes they observe (round, triangular, rectangular).
  • Ask if the statue is symmetrical.
  • Discuss why this material (clay) was used to create this figure. 


Elicit critiques (I liked or disliked the sculpture because …) and record responses.


Write a few lines about why you suppose the statue was created.

Florida Standards

Florida Visual Arts Standards Grades K-5

  • Vocabulary: VA.1.C.3.1 / VA.2.C.3.1 / VA.3.C.3.1 / VA.4.C.3.1 / VA.1.S.1.4/ VA.2.S.1.4 / VA.3.S.1.4 / VA.4.S.1.4 / VA.5.S.1.4
  • Interpret and Reflect: VA.K.C.1 .2 / VA.1.C.1.2 / VA.2.C.1.2 / VA.3.C.1.2 / VA.4.C.1.2 / VA.5.C.1.2
  • Artist’s intent: VA.5.C.3.2
  • Critique art: VA.3.C.3.3 / VA.4.C.3.3 / VA.5.C.3.3
  • Identify shapes: MAFS.K.G.1.2 / MAFS.4.G.1.2 / MAFS.5.G.2.4

Florida Visual Arts Standards Grades 6-8

  • Vocabulary: VA.68.C.3.1 
  • Interpret and Reflect: VA.68.C.1.2
  • Artist’s intent: VA.68.S.1.5
  • Describe art from selected cultures: VA.68.H.1.1
  • Critique art: VA.68.C.3.3

Florida Visual Arts Standards Grades 9-12

  • Interpret and Reflect: VA.912.C.1
  • Vocabulary: VA.912.C.3.1
  • Describe art from selected cultures: VA.912.H.1
  • Critique art: VA.912.C.3
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