Coiled Serpent

A.D. 1400-1519

Object

Culture

Locale

Country

Object Info

Object: sculpture; snake
Currently on view
Object ID: 1989.8

Medium/Technique

Volcanic stone

Credit

Funds From The Burgess Matching Trust And Other Donors

More Info

Dimensions

height: 10.5 in, 26.6700 cm; width: 12 in, 30.4800 cm; depth: 10.25 in, 26.0350 cm

Department

New World

Collection

New World-Pre-Columbian

Extended Info

Coiled Serpent
Aztec
About A.D. 1400–1519
Central Mexico
Volcanic stone
Funds from the Burgess Matching Trust and other donors, 1989.8

Aztec stone sculpture is generally static in pose and compact in form.  Animals, including snakes, are represented frequently.  Usually these animals have symbolic meanings – they represent days or months in the calendar, illustrate mythical episodes, or refer to deities.  The rattle and huge fangs identify this carving as a supernatural rattlesnake.  With its rapid strike and venomous bite, the rattlesnake especially appealed to the aggressive, militaristic Aztecs.  More generally, snakes (which often live in holes in the ground and slither on their bellies) were closely associated with the earth.