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Teotihuacan (Mexico)

Carved volcanic tuff brazier

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Object Details

Culture

Teotihuacan (Mexico)

Date

A.D. 450-650

Medium

Volcanic pumice stone with traces of stucco and paint

Dimensions

10 x 8 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches (25.4 x 22.2 x 21.6 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the Membership Purchase Fund

Object
Number

73.013.003

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a Teotihuacán style brazier carved from volcanic tuff (a type of stone).WH(…)

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a Teotihuacán style brazier carved from volcanic tuff (a type of stone).WHERE WAS IT MADE?This vessel was made in what is now Mexico, specifically in the Teotihuacán Valley, near Mexico City.HOW WAS IT MADE?This sculpture was carved from a piece of volcanic stone. Hand tools made from harder stones and wood, as well as fiber cords, were used to carve the stone. To ease the work, sand was used as an abrasive, and water as a lubricant.HOW WAS IT USED?Although we cannot be certain what purpose braziers like this one served, they have been discovered in central courtyards or near central shrines in the apartment complexes of Teotihuacán, where they may have been used for fire rituals.WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?This Teotihuacán-style brazier (“brasero” in Spanish) is carved in the likeness of the Fire God, who is usually depicted as an elderly man carrying a brazier on his head. Notice his wrinkled face and hunched back; the Fire God is one of the oldest Mesoamerican deities, and is usually depicted with these features. Both the Totonacs and the Aztecs had similar Fire Gods; the Aztec Fire God was called Huehueteotl. A younger manifestation of the Aztec Fire God is Xiuhtecuhtli, Lord of the Year and God of Time. Identities of many of these Mesoamerican deities are fluid, with aspects of one god often acquired by others.ABOUT TEOTIHUACÁN:The rise of Teotihuacán as a major Mesoamerican city began by AD 150 and lasted until the city was burned in the sixth or seventh century AD. At its height, circa AD 550, Teotihuacán was a city of some 125,000 inhabitants—the sixth largest city in the world—whose prestige and influence were rivaled only much later by Tenochtitlan, the great capital of the Aztecs located on the present site of Mexico City. The “talud-tablero” is a distinctively Teotihuacano architectural style, having vertical elements (the “tablero”) surmounting the slope of the lower “talud.” The vertical “tablero” was frequently decorated with brightly painted raised-relief murals incorporating images of feathered serpents and other Mesoamerican deities. Similar iconography is found on the footed tripod pottery vessels (such as this one), which are also characteristic of this culture. Other material culture of note includes elaborate mosaic greenstone masks and extraordinarily thin pottery vessels with lifelike human figures.

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