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Greenstone Huitzilopochtli

Greenstone Huitzilopochtli

Huitzilopochtli, Mexica, greenstone, height 6.7cms., Musée du Quay Branly, Paris.

Carved in highly polished greenstone, this seated figure is the only known three-dimensional representation of Huitzilopochtli, the tribal god of the Mexicas who led them on their long migration from Aztlan, their mythical place of origin, to the founding of the imperial Mexica capital of Tenochtitlan. He was also associated with war and sacrifice.
In this carving Huitzilopochtli wears two large annular shell pendants on his chest and back, held in place with leather straps. His headdress is decorated with heron and eagle feathers; both birds associated with the sun. He wears a cape adorned with skulls and crossbones and a serpent’s head replaces his left foot. As a god of war, Huitzilopochtli is armed with a spear-thrower and sacrificial knife. In his right hand he holds a round shield decorated with his attributes: six balls of eagle down, three horizontal ropes and a banner. He is here distinguished by the hummingbird on his back.


Adapted from ‘Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler’, British Museum Catalogue, 2009, p. 159

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore