Ceremonial Village Scene with a Flying Figure Artist: Unknown

100 B.C.–A.D. 250

Art of the Ancient Americas

In the volador (pole flying) ceremony, acrobats mimic a bird's descent from the heavens to the earth. In this sculpture, a man wearing a feathered headdress is tied to the top of a pole, which towers above the roofs of surrounding houses. He flaps his arms and legs as if to fly, and he is fastened to a rope that wraps its way down the pole. In a moment, he will spiral down to earth.


Ceramic with pigment


11 7/16 × 7 1/16 in. (29 × 18 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Olsen

Accession Number



Protoclassic Period


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Alfred Stendahl (1915–2010), Los Angeles, June 27, 1956; Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1959 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Joanne Pillsbury et al., Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015), 40–42, fig. 40
  • Richard F. Townsend, ed., Ancient West Mexico: Art and Archaeology of the Unknown Past, exh. cat. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), 144, fig. 10
  • Helen Pollard, "Recent Research in West Mexican Archaeology," Journal of Archeological Research 5 (1997), 345–84
  • Michael Kan, Clement W. Meighan, and Henry B. Nicholson, Sculpture of Ancient West Mexico: Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, 2, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989), An exhibiton of West Mexico Anecdotal figures, describing figures such as this one.
  • George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 182–83, 355, no. 408, fig. 238
  • Jacki Gallagher, Companions of the Dead: Tomb Sculpture from Ancient West Mexico, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Fowler Museum at UCLA, 1983),
  • Professor George A. Kubler, The Art and Architecture of Ancient America, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1975), pl. 77b
  • Betty Bell, ed., The Archaeology of West Mexico (Ajijic, Mexico: West Mexican Society for Advanced Study, 1974),
  • Peter T. Furst, West Mexican Art: Secular or Sacred? The Iconography of Middle American Sculpture (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973), 98–133
  • Hasso Von Winning and Olga Hammer, Ancecdotal Sculpture of Ancient West Mexico, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Ethnic Arts Council of Los Angeles, 1972), 71, no. 86, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

human figures (visual works), sculptures

Technical metadata and APIs


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