General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Eagle cuauhxicalli

Aztec/Mexica eagle headed cuauhxicalli bowl

Eagle-headed cuauhxicalli, Mexica, andesite, length 139 cms, Museo del Templo Mayor, Mexico City.

This sculpture depicts a golden eagle, poised ready to attack. The bowl on its back identifies the object as a cuauhxicalli or ‘eagle vessel’, a container used for sacrificial offerings. The carving is notable for its technical skill and realism, particularly in the plumage and body details. Unfortunately, there are cracks in one part of the beak and in the right eye, possibly damage incurred during the Spanish invasion. The fine, flame-like feathers around the eyes emphasize the symbolic links between the sun and the eagle in Mexica culture.
This piece was found in 1985 in the Templo Mayor sacred precinct.

Adapted from ‘Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler’, British Museum Catalogue, 2009, p. 42.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore