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    Native American Religions

    Religions and cults of the indigenous people of the American continent: North American tribes, Aztec, Maya, and other natives.

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    Huitzilopochtli (or Uitzilopochtli - "Hummingbird of the South") dressed in his war attire. Huitzilopochtli was the Aztec god of war as well as a sun god and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. From "Florentine Codex"; Illuminated manuscript; 1570. (The Florentine Codex is a manuscript containing a hand-written version of the encyclopedic account of Aztec society assembled by Bernardino de Sahagun (1499-1590).)


    Small temple with female ballplayer, next to her two dwarfs. Women are unlikely to have taken part in the ballgame, but had ritual functions. Funerary gift from the burial site on the Isle of Jaina, Mexico. Clay (600-900 CE). Height 20 cm. Inv. 10-78147


    Double spout and bridge vessel with hummingbirds, Nasca culture, Peru, 200 BCE-600 CE. Decorated with several hummingbirds flying around two flowers at the base of the spouts. Hummingbirds were considered intermediaries or manifestations of the mountain gods. After painting, slip was applied and the vessel fired and burnished to a characteristic glossy finish. Ethno 1913.10-29.1

    18-01-02/ 4

    A ballgames player. Kneeling on one leg, he throws the rubber ball with his right arm, his rump protected by a wide girdle. The ballgame symbolized the war of the Heavenly Twins against the rulers of the Underworld. Limestone (600-900 CE), 27.6 x 18.1 cm. Inv.24/457


    Mosaic mask of Tezcatlipoca, one of the Aztec creator gods, also the god of rulers, warriors and sorcerers. Alternate bands of turquoise and lignite cover a human skull. The jew is moveable and hinged with leather. The eyes are made of two disks of iron pyrite set in rings of shell. Turquoise was sent as tribute to the Aztec capital from several provinces of the empire. Ethno, ST 401

    18-01-02/ 9

    Stone bust of Quetzalcoatl, Aztec, from Mexico, 1325-1521. This sculpture represents the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. His name in Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs, means Feathered (quetzal feather) Serpent. The serpent's coils of the sculpture are covered with feathers and the face of the god (or an impersonation) emerges wearing the curved shell ear ornaments characteristic of representations of this god.The cult of Quetzalcoatl was widespread throughout Mesoamerica, although it was known by different names at different periods. While his various aspects and origins are far from clear, Quetzalcoatl is said to have been one of the Aztec creator gods. According to the Aztec creation myth there were four suns or worlds before the present one, each of them created and destroyed in a different way. When the fourth sun was destroyed by floods the gods decided to create a new one. To create a new race of humans, Quetzalcoatl descended to the lower levels of the Underworld. He managed to trick Mictlantecuhtli and retrieved the bones of the people of the fourth sun. With those bones and some of his blood he gave life to the humans that inhabited the present world. Ethno, 1825.12-10.11


    Stone carving with Maya script inscriptions from Tikal. The Maya script, commonly known as Maya hieroglyphs, was the writing system of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. Maya classic era. Tikal, Guatemala; 5th century BCE.


    Censer, upper part of a vessel in which fragrant resin was burnt. The incense issued from the mouth of the human head. From Amatitlan-Lake, Guatemala. Sacrificial vessels were thrown into the lake during ceremonies. Clay with paint (250-600 CE). Height 70 cm. Inv. 216


    Detail of a turquois mosaic of a double-headed serpent, Aztec/Mixtec. It is carved in wood and covered with turquois mosaic. The eye sockets were probably inlaid with iron pyrites and shell. This ornment was probablyworn as a pectoral on ceremonial occasions. The serpent played a very important role in Aztec religion. Ethno, 1894-634

    18-01-02/ 8

    Statue of the God Quetzalcoatl.His name signifies the "feathered serpent". The god's head emerges from the mouth of the serpent;his earrings with a hook show that he is the god of the winds.Stone,H: 44 cm Depot du Musee de l'Homme Inv.M.H. 78.1.59


    A ballgames player. Kneeling on one leg, he throws the rubber ball with his right arm, his rump protected by a wide girdle. The ballgame symbolized the war of the Heavenly Twins against the rulers of the Underworld. Limestone (600-900 CE), 27.6 x 18.1 cm. Inv.24/457


    Rock crystal carving in the form of a human skull. Possibly Aztec or Mixtec, Mexico (ca. 14th-15th), or Spanish Colonial. Height 21 cm


    Globular vase with high relief.Wari Culture.


    Teotihuacan, Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, and Tlaloc, the rain-god. Heads of Jaguars, symbol of death, jut out from flowers, symbol of plenitude; the god Tlaloc is shown with a face of corncobs and large goggles (3rd-6th CE).


    A ballgame player, funerary gift from the burial site on the Isle of Jaina, Mexico. Participants in the cult game wore elaborate headgear, necklaces, earplugs, a wide, cushioned girdle and knee-pads with skulls. Clay (600-900 CE). Height 17.1 cm. Inv. 10-6167


    Lintel 24, one of three panels from structure 23 at Yaxchilan, Mexico. It represents a bloodletting ritual performed by the king of Yaxchilan, Shield Jaguar II, and his wife, Lady K'ab'al Xook. The Maya king holds a flaming torch over his wife, who is pulling a thorny rope through her tongue. The glyphs in the text at the top indicate the event and the date, 709 CE.

    18-01-02/ 6

    The God Oxhintok,late classical.


    Top of a censer, figure of a dignitary, probably ruler of Copan, Honduras. The elaborate headdress and the decorations worn over the mouth (a symbol of self- mortification) are typical of the Kings of Copan. Clay, paint (7th), 105 cm. From Copan, Structure XXXVII-4


    Ceremonial adze, representing the Olmec "God I" with his typical flaming eyebrows. Olmec art was a major influence on early Maya art. Green jadeite (1200-800 BCE). Height 29.5 cm. Inv. St. 536


    Portrait mask of the Sun God from the Sun Temple at Palenque, Mexico. The mask was originally placed on the outer wall of the cella, but was later ritually buried under the temple. Stucco, paint (600-900 CE). Height 21 cm. Inv. 10-222284


    "Hacha", a flat, highly polished sculpture associated with the Maya ballgame. This hacha shows a bird of prey on a skull. Hachas may have been markers, or trophies, or models for the players' leather belts (600-900 CE). Volcanic stone. Height 29.5 cm, from Guatemala.


    Coiled rattlesnake. Basalt (ca. 1510, before Spanish conquest). Height 33 cm


    Top of a censer from the same tomb site as 12-01-03/43. One of 11 censer figures "watching" tomb XXXVII-4, perhaps representing ancestors. Wide turban-like headdress, earplugs, pectoral. Clay,paint (7th), 58 cm. From Copan, Structure 26, in front of tomb XXXVII-4


    Head of a prince, part of a more than life-size statue, from the roof of the "Temple of Meditation", Copan. These "roof-figures" represent ancestors, placed at the highest level of the temple. Volcanic limestone (695-738 CE). Height 64 cm. Inv. CPN-244


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