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Western Mexico, Nayarit Culture. Pole Dance Scene, 100-800 AD.

Western Mexico, Nayarit Culture. Pole Dance Scene, 100-800 AD. Ceramic, pigment, 9" (23 cm). Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Julian R. Goldsmith. 1990.554.2

Historians know little about the Nayarit culture which created this Pole Dance Scene because no written records exist. Objects such as this provide a rare glimpse into the rituals and social systems of the peoples of ancient Western Mexico.

The Pole Dance Scene represents the volador ceremony, which was probably a central ritual for the Nayarit culture. Two shamans (priests) climb and balance atop tall poles in their village as part of this ceremony. The pole symbolizes the axis of the universe and shamans must ascend this axis in order to transcend the earthly level by moving into the spiritual realm above. The ritual takes place on a circular platform (a cosmic diagram that commonly appears in artwork of Mesoamerican cultures of this period) as townspeople look on.

Rituals such as the Pole Dance were performed to strengthen community ties and to ensure the proper progression of the seasons.


What are some rituals that take place in your community? Do you have any traditions within your family? How are your celebrations and rituals different from your classmates'?

Alison Hughes, coordinator of School Partnerships, the Art Institute of Chicago.
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Title Annotation:Community: GalleryCard
Author:Hughes, Alison
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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