General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Head of a youth

Stone head of a drunken Aztec (Mexica) youth

Head of a Mexica (Aztec) youth, c. 1500 CE, stone, red shell and obsidian, height 19.5 cms., National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

Two similar sculptures depicting the heads of young Aztecs were discovered by chance in 1940 during the construction of a building in the historic quarter of Mexico City. Both pieces, of which this is one, have the original pyrite, red and white shell inlays, which accentuate the vivid representation of men in a state of drunkenness. Pulque, a mildly alcoholic drink made from the sap of the maguey cactus, is known to have been consumed during certain festivities. A hole bored into the base of the neck allowed both sculptures to be attached to the body. Hence, they were probably used as substitutes for living victims in ceremonial decapitation rituals.
(Adapted from the Royal Academy exhibition catalogue ‘Aztecs’, p. 412).

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

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