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Currently shown

Chalchiuhtlicue (Goddess of Water)

Location

MEXICO, CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

Era

Late Postclassic Period (1200-1521 C.E.)

Culture

Aztec

Title

Chalchiuhtlicue (Goddess of Water)

Materials

Stone

Dimensions

23.3 x 12.9 x 11.8 cm

Credits

Gift of Leo Rosshandler in honour of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' 150th anniversary, inv. 2013.690

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

The Aztec empire, the monumental architecture of its capital Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City) and its sacrificial rites feature prominently in the modern picture of the pre-Columbian world. Despite the destruction that followed the Spanish conquest, a number of written sources on Aztec mythology, including in Nahuatl, have come down to us. Thanks to them, it has notably been determined that this sculpture depicts a goddess named Chalchiuhtlicue, “she of the jade skirt” in Nahuatl. She is the goddess of the spring, river and lake water used to irrigate the fields, but also to wash and purify, in particular newborns, the dead, and kings during the ritual of their investiture. She is recognizable by her hairstyle with its multiple headbands and pompoms, as well as by her triangular cape.

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