Skip to Content


Showing 3 of 48


Seated Female Figurine Whistle

6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)

Maya artist

Maya; made in Jaina, Campeche, Mexico

Object Type: Ceramics
Medium and Support: Clay, pigments
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1971.15
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object

The Maya are noted for the realistic, lively human figures they depicted in their murals and ceramics. The many portrait-like ceramic figurine whistles found on the island of Jaina provide the modern viewer with an astounding amount of detail about the way the ancient Maya lived. The seated female figure was a popular form. Two molds were used: one for the head and one for the body. The rest of the details—elaborate beaded jewelry, loose cape, ankle-length skirt—were created by hand. The whistle is formed with a hole in the figure’s back left shoulder that leads down into its hollow body cavity. It remains a mystery why the whistle form was so common in Jaina graves.

The Maya practiced body modification and adornment that reflected their standards of beauty and reinforced class lines. The elaborate jewelry was likely made of precious metals and green stone. This figure’s nose replicates the prolonged nose bridge that was produced in real life with an artificial nose piece. Between the ears and mouth are lines of scarification created by cutting or branding permanent designs into the skin.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

Intermercado Limitado, San Jose, Costa Rica (dealers?); purchased from them by the Gallery in 1971

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

This object has the following bibliographic references:

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

Your current search criteria is: Portfolio is "Music".

View current selection of records as: