Double-headed serpent turquoise mosaic


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Mexico, 15th-16th century AD
An icon of Aztec* art, this striking object was probably worn on ceremonial occasions as a pectoral (an ornament worn on the chest).
It is carved from cedar wood (Cedrela odorata) that is hollowed from the back and covered with turquoise mosaic.
Serpent imagery occurs throughout the iconography of Mesoamerica. The serpent forms part of several Aztec/Mexica deities including Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent), Xiuhcoatl (Fire Serpent) and Mixcoatl (Cloud Serpent) and Coatlicue (Snakes


  • Title: Double-headed serpent turquoise mosaic
  • Date Created: 1400/1521
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 20.30cm; Width: 43.30cm; Depth: 5.90cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: mosaic
  • Subject: pre-columbian deity; reptile
  • Registration number: Am1894,-.634
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Mexico
  • Period/culture: Aztec; Mixtec
  • Other information: Cultural rights may apply.
  • Material: turquoise; cedrela wood; oyster shell; conch shell; pine resin; copal; beeswax; hematite
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Walsingham. Collected by Massimo

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