mimbres burial

Mimbres Burial

© by teresamariedreams

artwork 7" x 7"
harmonogram and drawing
pen and color pencil on Bristol board
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During the classic Mimbres period (about AD 1000 - 1150), the Mimbres people buried their dead beneath the floors of their homes. The deceased person may be placed in a sitting or prone position and a funerary bowl, decorated in classic Mimbres style, was placed on the person's head, or as in the case of an infant grave that was found, covering the entire body. The bowl usually had a hole punched near the center; scholar's today refer to this as the "kill hole". To me, it seems more like a "release hole", a place for the spirit of the dead to find its way from this life to the next. Others suggest the kill hole released the spirit of the bowl. Maybe both were released and the spirit of the bowl led the spirit of the deceased to the other side, to meet with ancestors that had already passed. However, such interpretations are speculative. The Mimbres left no written or oral stories for us to understand their practices or their art. But their burial practices and the beautiful images of birds, rabbits, lizards, cats and bears and other animals, as well as insects and people and strange mythical creatures, often wrapped in geometric designs, were apparently an important part of the Mimbres' relationship to their ancestry and their mortality as well as their beliefs concerning life after death.


American Federation of Arts. 1983. Mimbres Pottery: Ancient Art of the American Southwest. New York (NY): Hudson Hills Press, Inc.

Fewkes JW. 1914. Archeology of the lower Mimbres Valley, New Mexico. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 63: 1 - 61.

LeBlanc SA. 2004. Painted by a Distant Hand. Harvard University: Peabody Museum Press.