About A.D. 1400–1519
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.