Seated Meditating Male Shaman Figure



Seated Meditating Male Shaman Figure




1000 - 1520 AD


Period VI
Central America, Atlantic Watershed, Costa Rica


Medium-grained basalt
9 x 6 x 6 3/4 in. (22.9 x 15.2 x 17.1 cm)

Object Number



In ancient Costa Rica shamans are also often depicted seated in a meditative pose. The prominent vertebrae of this shaman's back indicate either advanced age, associated with the power to defeat death (the average lifespan was short), or emaciation due to fasting, a method for achieving visions, or both. The drawn-up legs, chin on hands, and far-away look in his eyes all suggest he is in a state of trance, his body forgotten in his shamanic journeying. In fact, during visions the sense of having a body is lost, and perhaps this may help explain why so many ancient American objects enlarge the head and diminish the body, as here.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William C. and Carol W. Thibadeau


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2002 - June 2012|
'For I am the Black Jaguar': Shamanic Visionary Experience in Ancient American Art, Michael C. Carlos Museum, September 5, 2012 - January 5, 2013|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, February 9, 2013 - Present
Rebecca Stone-Miller, Seeing With New Eyes: Highlights of the Michael C. Carlos Museum Collection of Art of the Ancient Americas (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2002), 140, figure 307.|
MCCM Newsletter, Fall/Winter 2012.|
Rebecca Stone, The Jaguar Within: Shamanic Trance in Ancient Central and South American Art (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011), 75, figure 4.4.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Michael McKelvey.
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“Seated Meditating Male Shaman Figure,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed December 16, 2018,

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