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Lot 89: Aztec Stone Sculpture - Earth Goddess Coatlicue
27 October 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
Pre-Columbian, Central Mexico, Aztec, ca. 1300 to 1500 CE. A dramatic sculptural depiction of Coatlicue, the Aztec mother earth goddess who gave birth to Huitzilopochtli (whose alter identity was the sun), Coyolxauhqui (whose alter identity was the moon), as well as all stars of the celestial realm. The name Coatlicue is Nahuatl for "Serpent Skirt," and the lower garment of this representation features a writhing snake belt. The serpent symbolized fertility, quite apropos for a Mother Earth divinity. Her necklace usually features hands, hearts, and a skull as according to Aztec mythology the earth not only creates all living beings but also consumes those that die. Indeed this figure's necklace appears to have at least one head suspended from it. Hence, Coatlicue symbolizes the earth as both its creator and its destroyer, and this Pre-Columbian notion of dualism is powerfully illustrated in this image. Like most Aztec representations of Coatlicue, this example clearly emphasize her vicious, deadly nature with its skeletal visage and open mouth bearing teeth and a lapping tongue. It bears repeating that for the Aztecs, the Earth was envisioned as both a nurturing mother and the monster that consumes the living yet regenerates life. A fascinating statue, replete with strong carving technique and symbolic iconography providing a valuable point of contact with Aztec mythology. Custom stand. Size: 5.75" W x 14.75" H (14.6 cm x 37.5 cm)
Provenance: Ex-Peter Arnovick collection, San fran, CA
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Condition Report: Head reattached and surface wear as shown.