Browse Exhibits (44 total)

feathered serpant @ MET.JPG

Feathered Serpent

On display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this feathered serpent created by the Aztecs in the 15th to 16th century is the subject of this exhibit. The formal and iconographic elements to this sculpture are discussed along with the volcanic stone material it was created from.

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Feathered Serpent Ornament

Located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the center of Manhattan, New York, the Feathered Serpent Ornament has the ability to transcend the limits of time and presents the delicate gold ornament production technique of the Aztec civilization in the Valley of Mexico during the 15th-16th century to the audience from the 21st century. 

This exhibition has been broken down into five parts:

1. Formal Analysis—in-depth analysis of the relationship between the lighting effect and the simulation of three-dimensional space. 

2. Iconography—the feathered serpent of the Aztec religion: Quetzalcoatl.

3. Materials—a detailed study of gold. 

4. Location of Object

5. Bibliography


Figure of Tlaloc

A pecked and ground scoria figure of the rain god Tlaloc. From the museum's description it describes the material as Tenzotle. When I observed the material that this statue was made of, I wondered as to why the creator of this piece would have chosen to use such an unglamorous and non-lusterous material to depict Tlaloc. I assumed that an extravagant material would have been used like gold or polished stone, or at least a stone that did not harden with such porousness to it. Because of Tlaloc's place as one of the most powerful gods in the Aztec religion, it made me question why this partical material was used. The materila beinghis piece is scoria, a basaltic lava rock that hardens into a solid stone with many holes and crevices on the interior and exterior. The vesicular quality of scoria comes from gaseous bubbles that move through the rock as it hardens, There are two reasons that might explain why this figure was madeout of scoria. One reason is that scoria made this figure very portable and easy to give as a gift as I argued it may have been intended for previously. Scoria hardens into a very porous and leightweight stone with no dimension being more the 12 inches so it can easily be held in someone's hand and carried from place to place. But the portability and lightness that scoria gives to object, meant that there would not be a lot of elegance to it. It is strange that the most powerful and influential rain god in the Aztec religion would be depicted on such a small scale with such a low quality material. But a counter arguement could be made that the scoria is exactly what made this figure so sacred or powerful. As a basaltic lava rock, this material originated from extremely hot and bright molten lava. The heat and brightness are sources of power and energy to the Aztec people, in the form of tonalli. Tonalli is stored in all living things and many non-sentient objects. The Aztecs were extremely connected to this idea of tonalli. Even though the figure itself does not have any heat radiating from it or any luster to make light protrude off of its surface in an intriguing way, in the minds of the Aztec people, it would still have the tonalli stored inside of it. To have an object like scoria, with that much stored tonalli, would make it very valuable and significant to the beholder. The specific reddish brown color of the figure comes from the oxidation of the stone. Scoria hardens into a black rock, but over time begins to oxidize into this color. On the catalog card, the museum indicates that it may have been painted with white and red pigment.


Head-shaped bell

An artwork reveals sensory perception. 


Huehueteotl: The Old, Old God

This is a detailed analysis of the iconography of Huehueteotl: the Old, old fire God. 

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This exhibit describes the iconography of Huitzilopochtli (wheat-zil-oh-POACH-tlee). His name in Nahuatl means "hummingbird from the left" and he was known as a war deity. As the main god of war, many people made sacrifices to him. This made Huitzilopochtli one of the most important deities in the Aztec empire; he was one of two gods (along with Tlaloc) to whom the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan was dedicated. 

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This is an iconographic study of Aztec goddess Huixtocihuatl (Weesh-toe-SEE-wattl). Huixtocihuatl was the Aztec goddess of salt, salt water, and those who made salt.


Jaguar-Eagle Teponaztli Drum

This page discusses the iconography, materials. and context of a jaguar-eagle teponaztli drum currently displayed at the Museum of Natural History

Head of Xochipilli-Macuilxochitl


Macuilxochitl was the God of flowers, games, songs and dance. He was associated with happiness, the sun rise and fertility. Macuilxochitl can be indentify by his visual attributes and primary sources descriptions.