Tecali vessel with a figure wearing a feline mask

From Isla de Sacrificios, Mexico
Postclassic period (AD 900-1521)

Tecali is a white translucent stone (travertine) which sometimes presents layers of different shades of colours, as seen near the rim of this vessel. The stone's aesthetic qualities allowed craftsmen to carve beautiful objects that were traded over long distances for the use of the élite.

Carving these vessels was a skillful and laborious process. First, the exterior of the vessel was shaped and then the interior was hollowed out with tubular drills. The stone was later polished with abrasive sand and water.

Like most of the known tecali vessels dating to the Postclassic period (AD 900-1521)ithis example comes from the Island of Sacrificios, off the coast of Veracruz. Sixteenth-century chroniclers reported finding tecali vessels on the island: Juan de Grijalva, precursor of Cortés, sent two such vessels as a present to the Governor of Cuba who sponsored the expedition to Mexico. It was Grijalva who named the island 'Sacrificios', since he found the bodies of recently sacrificed victims.

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More information


C. Cook de Leonard, 'Minor arts of the Classic period in Central Mexico' in Handbook of Middle American -1, vol. 1, part 1 (Austin, University of Texas, 1971)

H. von Winning, 'A monkey effigy jar from ancient Mexico', Art Bulletin of Victoria, 27 (1986), pp. 66-73

R.A. Diehl and E.G. Stroh, Jr, 'Tecali vessel manufacturing at Tollan, Mexico', American Antiquity, 43:1 (1978), pp. 73-79

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


Height: 21.000 cm
Width: 11.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1851,8-9.2



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