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Chicahuaztli

Aztec volcanic stone chicahuaztli or music staff

Mexica (Aztec) chicahuaztli , height 26.5 cms., volcanic stone, Templo Mayor Museum, Mexico City.

From Ofrenda 78 at the Templo Mayor, this representation of a shaker or staff was made by scraping and polishing volcanic rock. The piece consists of three sections: a triangular motif on the top with a hollow centre also triangular in shape and with stepped incisions on both sides; a central section consisting of a circular element bordered by four bars, two above and two below, and with a hollow circular centre; the lower section is a rounded pole trimmed in two places, rounded off at the bottom by a trapezium. The lower section still retains some red and blue pigments. The object represents a chicahuaztli, the staff carried by the god Xipe Totec, symbol of the earth’s fertility.

Adapted from Azteca Mexica by José Alcina Franch, Miguel León-Portilla and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, Madrid, 1992, p. 276.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.