General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Squash (pumpkin) with its flower

Aztec sculpture of squash (pumpkin) with its flower

Mexica squash (pumpkin) with its flower, c. 1440-1521, porphyry (igneous rock), length 30 cms., National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

This representation of a squash is so true-to-life that in order to test his audience’s powers of observation a former director of Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum once displayed it in a case with a green pumpkin from a local market, and his visitors merely wondered why he had set up a botanical exhibition in an archaeological museum. It shows the Aztec convention of having a single work embrace both the fruit and the flower.
This object may have been an offering in a temple of agriculture, for the squash or pumpkin ranked with corn and beans as a staple. Also, the seeds were salted in ancient times for ‘pepitas’ (a roasted snack, like peanuts).
Carbon 14 analyses of the dried remains of this variety of squash found in a dry cave in Mexico have yield dates between 7000 and 5500 BCE, making it one of the oldest domesticated plants in the New World.

(Adapted from Before Cortés: Sculpture of Middle America, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970, p. 307.)

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore