1300 AD to 1550 AD
15″ (38.1cm) high x 8″ (20.3cm) wide
|The Aztec civilization is perhaps the most celebrated of the ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Their empire stretched throughout northern Mexico and was surpassed in size only by that of the Incans. Tenochtitlan (modern-day Mexico City) was the center of their religious and political systems. The city was composed of a group of island located in the center of Lake Texcoco, earning it the nickname “Venice of the New World.” By the time the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the early 16th Century, led by the infamous Hernan Cortes, Tenochtitlan was by far larger than any city they could have seen in Europe. Today, the Aztec are remembered for their grand temple complex ruins, for their intricate calendar system, and for the few examples of their art that survive today. Aztec art was primarily ecclesiastical and is renowned for its powerful nature. Highly adept at working with stone, the Aztec artists created artworks that were both grand in scale, as evidenced in their temple architecture, and relatively small in size. Like many cultures, the Aztecs believed that many animals had supernatural symbolic associations. Therefore, although the Aztec gods were usually visualized in human form, most gods also had animal aspects. Moreover, it was believed that both men and gods could, at certain times, actually change themselves into powerful animals.
Considered to be the “Father of the Gods,” Xiuhtecuhtli himself was also the god of fire, day and heat in Aztec mythology. He was the lord of volcanoes, the personification of life after death, warmth in cold, light in darkness and food during famine. And defined as such, through various polarities, Xiuhtecuhtli is sometimes considered to be a manifestation of Ometecuhtli, the Lord of Duality, Stone sculptures of Xiuhtecuhtli were ritually buried as offerings, and various statuettes have been recovered during excavations at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan with which he was closely associated. Statuettes of the deity from the temple most often depict a seated male with his arms crossed such as this. Our example although somewhat weathered with age, still wonderfully depicts of all of Xiuhtecuhtli’s most distinctive characteristics including: crouched/compressed pose with arms crossed, stern visage, large protruding teeth with discernible overbite and gap, elaborate bifurcated headdress, elongated ear flares and deeply sunken eye sockets. The impression of this striking deity sculpture is one of strength, dignity, and authority.– (CK.0324)