General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Sep 2017/8 Reed
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Coiled rattlesnake

Aztec coiled rattlesnake sculpture

Aztec coiled rattesnake, basalt, 1400-1521 CE. Height 36 cms., diameter 53 cms., British Museum, London.

This powerful sculpture reveals how closely the rattlesnake’s anatomy and habits were observed. Two small holes, one on either side of the snout, house the infrared heat sensors that enable the snake to seek out and strike prey at night. Each year upon shedding its skin it would also grow a new rattle. There are 13 segments on the tail of this specimen [not shown here] - perhaps an allusion to the 13-day period in the Aztec divinatory calendar...

From Ancient American Art in Detail by Colin McEwan, British Museum Press, London, 2009, p.7.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.

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