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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Coiled rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) figurine made of granite. Key anatomical details, including the fangs and the bifurcated tounge are accurately depicted. Figure has traces of paint, which may once have depicted the specific species of rattlesnake.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1300-1521 (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Bibliography

    • Matos Moctezuma 2002 81 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 1994 p. 69 bibliographic details
  • Location


  • Exhibition history


    1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.207
    1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.207
    1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.207
    2002, London, Royal Academy, Aztecs
    2003 Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Aztecs

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    17 May 1994

    Treatment proposal

    Light clean. Investigate pigment.


    Very dirty/very dense handeling grease. The face and mouth has been painted in reds and pinks. Red dots extend down the serpents body. They do not appear to follow any particular path. The underside of the snake is equally carved, following the shape of the coil. The surface is painted in shade of pink. Large red dots pattern the underbelly.

    Treatment details

    The upper surface was cleaned with Liniment of soap (camphor,oleic acid,rosemary oil,potassium hydroxide), removed with White Spirit (composition variable - petroleum distillate). The overall surface was then cleaned with a steamcleaner, taking care over painted surfaces. The underside was cleaned with distilled water on a swab. Friable areas of paint were consolidated with 3% Mowital B30H (polyvinyl butyral).

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Granite carving of a serpent


COMPASS Title: Granite carving of a serpent

Image description



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Object reference number: ESA1224

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