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Altar of nocturnal animals

Aztec altar of nocturnal animals

Aztec stone altar of creatures of the night, 56x67x62 cms., c. 1500, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

The purpose of altars, which played a significant part in Aztec sculpture, was to support images of the most important gods. The altar of nocturnal animals was dedicated to Mictlantecuhtli, god of death and the underworld, a statue of whom no doubt stood on the top of it. On its four sides are reliefs depicting creatures of the night: a bat, a scorpion, an owl and a spider (shown here).

Adapted from the RA exhibition catalogue ‘Aztecs’, p. 432.

Photo by Ana Laura Landa/Mexicolore.

You can see the bat side by following our link below...

The legend of the bat