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Pato loco

‘Pato loco’ crazy duck figure from Teotihuacan

Pato loco, Teotihuacán (NOT Aztec), c.250-275 CE, fire-clouded buff clay with white paint, jadeite, Spondylus shell, and unworked shells of the Olive and Murex families, height 25 cms., National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

Affectionately named by the excavators the ‘crazy duck’, this surprising bird has the beak of the quetzal, as seen so often in the art of Teotihuacán. Since the encircling feather crest and large eyes were also essential quetzal characteristics, these features added in orange shell and jade were certainly part of the original conception and not a frivolous after-thought. Additional spots of paint and adhesive on the body suggest that originally the vessel fairly foamed with marine shells, which were imported from both coasts, often placed in offerings, and depicted as symbols of the major deities.

From Before Cortés: Sculpture of Middle America, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970, p. 161.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore