The snake was one of the most important animals in Mesoamerica, with a great variety of roles in religious symbolism. Multiple deities of the Nahua pantheon take the word, or the root of coatl (“snake”) as part of its name: Mixcóatl, Quetzalcóatl, Coatlicue, Cihuacóatl or Chicomecóatl. Its image was one of 20 signs of the calendar days. Among all the native species in Mesoamerica, the rattlesnake (Crotalus) has always been very afraid of for its lethal venom; the sound that comes when shaking its tail with bone rings known as rattle, causes terror to whomever listens to it. This characteristic most probably made people consider this kind of snake as a very powerful animal to which it was necessary to respect and venerate.A fabric made of intertwined rattles forms the petticoat or skirt of the goddess mother Coatlicue and the diamond design of the skin of these snakes was depicted in textiles and other materials. The skirts of several goddesses were represented plastically by this design named coatlaxipehuallo (“skin of snake”), transmitted to us by the father Sahagún in his work.This piece is a beautiful sculpture of very polished black basalt, which represents in a very realistic way a rattlesnake with the body coiled forming a tight knot. We see its head flatten at the top part, the characteristic forked tongue and, to finish, the tail with four rattles or bells.Arqlga. Bertina Olmedo Vera


  • Title: Serpiente anudada
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: 1325/1521
  • Physical Location: México
  • Physical Dimensions: w240 x h310 x d440 cm (complete)
  • Period: Posclásico Tardío (1250-1521 d.C.)
  • Altiplano Central: Mexica
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia., INAH. Proyecto de Digitalización de las Colecciones Arqueológicas del Museo Nacional de Antropología. CONACULTA-CANON-MNA.
  • External Link: http://www.mna.inah.gob.mx
  • Medium: Basalto de Olivino

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