Fashioned from green jadeite, a sacred stone often associated with fertility throughout Mesoamerica, this work represents the Mixtec god Dzavui (also spelled Dzahui), who was associated with rain and fertility. More often, this god is referred to by its Nahuatl name, Tlaloc, which was used by the Mexica (Aztecs). Here, a Mixtec artist has carved Dzavui standing with arms crossed, staring forward with large goggle-like eyes, a curled-up lip (or mustache), and large teeth, which are evocative of earlier Olmec and Teotihuacan representations of Tlaloc that are also associated with jaguar iconography. The figure is adorned with a headdress that would have signified authority and class to Mixtec peoples since the wearing of certain forms was often regulated according to class and profession across Mesoamerica.
From about 500 CE–1500 CE the Mixtec people fashioned a vibrant culture throughout what is now the Mexican state of Oaxaca, constructing urban centers dominated by alliances between powerful elite families who vied for regional influence. Through their material culture and elaborately painted codices, which preserve the history and genealogies of powerful Mixtec rulers, scholars have been able to uncover a great deal of knowledge about the Mixtec society. For instance, while the Mixtec employed rigid social divisions, the elite seem to have enjoyed a measure of gender equality, allowing women to rule large swaths of territory.
[Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, NY];
The Jan T. and Marica Vilcek Collection, 2004-2010;
Gift to The Vilcek Foundation, 2010;