Head of Tlaloc

Mixtec, AD 1200-1521
From Mexico

This head represents the Rain God, Tlaloc, an important god in the Mesoamerican pantheon. Tlaloc can be recognized by the 'goggle' eyes and the fangs coming out of his mouth. Figurines similar to this piece, have been found as offerings in one of the twin shrines dedicated to Tlaloc at the Templo Mayor (Great Temple) of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. Blue vessels and greenstone beads were also found around the shrine, symbolizing the water poured over the earth by the Rain Gods.

Images of Tlaloc are found in pottery, stone, mural painting and codices. He is usually associated with the colour blue, as can be seen, for example, on the Codex Magliabecchiano and mural paintings at Teotihuacan.

The role of Tlaloc in agriculture is vital: he ensures the timely rains and the growth of the crops, but he can also provoke floods and storms. His feminine counterpart is Chalchiuhtlicue, associated with the spring water, rivers and lakes. The Tlaloques, his attendants, were each associated with a mountain, the place where storms are born.

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More information

Bibliography

L. López Luján, The offerings of the Templo Ma (University Press of Colorado, 1994)

E. Pasztory, Aztec art (New York, Abrams, 1983)

W. Bray and L. Manzanilla (eds.), The archaeology of Mesoamerica (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

C. McEwan, Ancient Mexico in the British (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Dimensions

Height: 8.300 cm

Museum number

AOA 1849,6-29.9

ESA1231

Location

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