The Aztecs were a warrior people who managed to establish themselves in the great central highland Basin of Mexico in the early fourteenth century. By two hundred years later, they were the political overlords of much of the country. Aztec-style sculpture proliferated throughout central Mexico, and deity images existed in quantity at sacred places such as caves, springs, and roadside shrines. Among the deities were female fertility figures that represent Chalchiuhtlicue, goddess of water and springs. The goddess is depicted here as a fine lady wearing a fancy shawl and a headdress that consists of a multistrand brow-band and large bulbous tassels falling onto the shoulders. Her eyes may originally have been inlaid. These images are quite serene and are thought to represent an ideal Aztec female type.
Louis Petich Collection, New York, before 1893, on loan to Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1894–1900
Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.