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For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Female figure made of sandstone, standing (truncated), hands folded in front, with fan-shaped (plumed ?) head-dress having centre-piece in form of cone on top of section of cylinder; left-hand proper edge of head-dress lost. Figure emerging from oblong base.

  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 150 centimetres (overall)
    • Width: 57 centimetres (figure)
    • Depth: 14 centimetres (figure)
    • Height: 22 centimetres (base)
    • Width: 50 centimetres (base)
    • Depth: 30 centimetres (base)
  • Curator's comments

    McEwan 2009
    Sculptures from Mexico's northern Gulf Coast depict Tlazolteotl, a goddess associated with spinning, weaving, childbirth and curing. As the "eater of filth" she was responsible for absorbing and absolving the guilt of sinful deeds. Her spectacular fan-shaped headdress would originally have been made from beaten bark cloth and brightly painted. A single large but rather thin slab of sandstone was used to sculpt this figure, imposing constraints on its depth and volume.


  • Bibliography

    • MacGregor 2010 69 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 2009 p. 116 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 1994 p. 35 (Drawing of detail) bibliographic details
  • Location


  • Exhibition history


    1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.214
    1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.214
    1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.214
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'

  • Condition

    Part of head-dress missing (left side proper); also evidence of repair.

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Purchased through Christy Fund in 1879 from W.G.Jolly of Manchester.

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Am1989,Q.3 (also registered as [deleted])


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Object reference number: ESA33577

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