Height: 93.000 cm
Width: 41.000 cm
Gift of Captain Vetch
Room 27: Mexico
Stone sculpture of Tlazolteotl
Huastec, AD 900-1521
From the Pánuco River region, Mexico
The Huastec inhabitated the northern part of the Gulf Coast. The territory they occupied at the height of their expansion corresponds roughly to the modern states of Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo and Tamaulipas. It was a very fertile region where cotton was an important crop and one of the principal items of tribute and trade.
Fertility is a recurring theme in Huastec art, represented by stone sculptures of female goddesses, elderly men and phalluses. The female figures are associated with Tlazolteotl, an earth goddess also venerated by the Mexica, who conquered the Gulf Coast in the fifteenth century. Representations of Tlazolteotl are found in codices, pottery figurines and engraved on shell pendants.
These female sculptures share similar characteristics, such as a rigid posture, hands over their stomachs, bare breasts, long skirt and large headdress. The headdress is generally composed of a rectangular section with a conical cap on top and a fan-shaped crest. However, in this example, there are no indications of clothing and the fan-shaped crest is carved on the back of the head.
*The people and culture we know as 'Aztec' referred to themselves as the Mexica (pronounced Me-shee-ka).
L. Manzanilla and L. López Luján, Historia antigua de México, vo (Mexico, UNAM / Instituto Nacional de Antropoligía e Historia, 1995)
E.P. Benson and E.H. Boone, The art and iconography of lat (Washington, D.C., Trustees for Harvard University, 1982)
C. McEwan, Ancient Mexico in the British (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)