Goddess Figure (Chalchiuhtlicue)

Artist/maker unknown, Mexican, Teotihuacan

Made in central Mexico, Mexico, North and Central America

c. 250-650

Volcanic stone with traces of pigment

36 1/4 × 16 1/4 × 16 inches (92.1 × 41.3 × 40.6 cm) Weight (estimated): 800 lb. (362.88 kg)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Between the third and eighth centuries, the metropolis of Teotihuacan, thirty miles northeast of Mexico City, was the largest urban center in the Americas. Although it is known for the frescoes and reliefs that decorate many of its buildings, not much freestanding sculpture was made there, and this figure of an unidentified goddess is a rare survival. She stands in a full frontal pose wearing a feathered skirt and a flat, tiered headdress that further compresses her compact features. The conception of the figure reflects both the slope and panel architecture of Teotihuacan itself as well as the society's belief in a cosmos ruled by impersonal deities beyond human control. However, despite the goddess's austere and distant attitude, the work represents a beneficent deity whose true nature is indicated by her abnormally large, upturned hands, which were the source of life-giving water, seeds, and precious jades. Allen Wardwell, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 348.