Conjoined Man and Woman (Curing Ritual Narrative), Jalisco, dates to 100 BC-AD 300, from Jalisco, Mexico.
Conjoined figures constitute an infrequent but not unknown narrative type of West Mexican tomb sculptures. […] Some double figures have been interpreted as portrayals of a marriage or otherwise affianced couple given that the man and woman touch or embrace and visually engage each other with what could be interpreted as a tender gaze of affection, as is seen in this sculpture. However, the rendering of personal affection is rare in Mesoamerican art, and the few Classic Maya examples from Jaina Island are interpreted as symbolic renderings rather than depictions of interpersonal intimacy. And although the often published “marriage couple” pairs of similar-looking male and female figures from West Mexico may imply a local tradition for ceramic portrayals of devoted couples, these pairings have no basis in archaeological reality.
[…] A closer examination of this paired figure artwork suggests an alternative interpretation as a healing ceremony by a shaman-curer and his patient. In myriad similar examples, one of the figures wears a curious panachelike or hornlike element atop his/her head, as seen here, which may identify the person as a shaman. Other conjoined figures feature one member grasping a rattle, rasp, or drum. These instruments are intimately associated with shamanic practice, and they are frequently integral to healing rituals among present-day shaman-curers in Mexico.
[…] The weight of the available evidence suggests that this exceptionally expressive and sensitive sculpture portrays a curing ceremony rather than an amorous couple.
Courtesy & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Balitmore, USA, via their online collections (where you can also read more about this artifact). Acession number: 2009.20.149.