Standard Bearer

Date: 15th–early 16th century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica, Veracruz

Culture: Aztec

Medium: Sandstone, laminated

Dimensions: H. 31 11/16 × W. 13 7/16 × D.13 1/16 in. (80.5 × 34.1 × 33.1 cm)

Classification: Stone-Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1962

Accession Number: 62.47


Wearing a simple loincloth tied in front in a prominent knot, this strong male figure is seated on a massive block. The elaborate lashings of his sandals suggest that he is an individual belonging to a high social class, since commoners in Aztec society went mostly barefoot. The facial contours are rounded and soft, and there is a slight frown on the forehead; his mouth is half open as if speaking. His almond-shaped eyes once held inlays. The curved, deeply grooved line across the top of the face indicates the hairline, but the head itself is smooth with no striations to indicate hair. The man's upper body leans slightly forward, and the knees are held close against the chest. His left hand, carved in relief, rests on the left knee, while the right, now damaged, is a hollow fist supported by his right knee. Because of the position of the right hand, the figure has been called a "standard bearer" of the kind often placed at the top of a temple pyramid stairway holding standards tipped with banners.

The sculpture comes from the town of Castillo de Teayo in northern Veracruz, where a temple pyramid and a number of sculptures were discovered in 1903. The sculptures are carved in a provincial version of the metropolitan Aztec style.