- Museum number
Sculpture made of Aragonite, of a squash (Curcurbita mixta).
Height: 8 centimetres
Width: 12 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Said to be from a grave at Mitla, Oaxaca, México.
Ancient Zapotec? [sic] (HTB). Colin?
McEwan, in Matos Moctezuma 2002, p.416
Among the naturalistic stone sculptures fashioned by Aztec artisans are a few that accurately represent important staple fruits and vegetables. In this example, the lifelike rendering of a particular variety of squash (Cucurbita mixta) reflects an intense interest in the cultivation of such crops. In the course of thousands of years of experimentation and innovation indigenous people accumulated the blend of deep knowledge and practical skills to plant, harvest and process corn, beans, squash, avocados, chillis, tomatoes, cacao and a host of other crops. Along with maize and beans, various species of squash, including the common Mexican pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo), comprised a significant part of the Aztec diet. Squash seeds could be stewed or parched and count among the most common items of food tribute. These formed part of an impressive arsenal of staple cultigens as well as more exotic seeds, fruits and spices upon which Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican societies depended. In due course they came to play an integral role in myths, rituals, calendars, customs and performances in Aztec life. There is very little direct information about the functions and uses of vegetative sculptures. They may have served as offerings dedicated to agricultural deities.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2002, London, Royal Academy, Aztecs
2003, Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Aztecs
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number