- Museum number
Sandstone seated figure of Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of death. The figure bears three glyphs on its back: 'Two Skull', 'Five Vulture' and 'Four House'.
- Production date
Height: 60 centimetres
Width: 27 centimetres
- Curator's comments
"Dep'tal File" = Sculpture Room Contents Book.
This figure is sculpted from sandstone, which is not found in Mexican highlands and was probably quarried and transported from a source on Mexico's northern Gulf Coast. It bears three inscribed glyphs: Four House is carved on the lower back. Two Skull appears on the carefully combed hair, and Five Vulture is visible on the right shoulder. The skeletal facial features represent Mictlantecuhtli, a minor Aztec deity and denizen of the Underworld (Mictlan), where he occupied the lowest of the nine levels into which it was divided.
The sould of the deceased were destined for a specific level in Mictlan according to the circumstances of their death. Those who died of natural causes could attain the ninth level but had to negotiate many obstacles to reach it. Two remarkable large ceramics sculptures of Mictlantecuhtli were recovered in the course of excavations undertaken in the 1980s in the House of Eagles at the Templo Mayor, the religious centre of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. These bore traces of blood consistent with depictions in the codices (screenfold books) of ceremonies in which an image of Mictlantecuhtli, or a person representing him, is bathed in blood.
- On display (G27/od)
- Exhibition history
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.202
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.202
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.202
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number