The xiuhcóatl (“snake of turquoises”) was a fantastic animal that was imagined with the undulating body of the snakes from where came out some small limbs with sharp claws; with a tail form with trapezoidal elements and a solar beam that constitutes the glyph of the year, and with a long horn that bends backwards, decorated with eyes that symbolize stars, which gave it the appearance of a dragoon. According to historical narrations, the newborn child Huitzilopochtli, patron god of the Mexicas, had to face in combant to all his brothers to defend his mother Coatlicue, whom they wanted to destroy. He was born dressed in warrior attire and armed with a serpent of fire which he used to destroy his enemies. This serpent is the xiuhcóatl, which beside being Huitzilopochtli divine emblem, was nahual of the god of the fire, Xiuhtecuhtli, who appears in some pictographs taking this fantastic being on his back. On the other hand, the famous Sun Stone exhibited in the Mexica hall of this museum, shows that this fantastic serpent was in charge of carrying the star in its daily crossing through the celestial vault.This colossal sculpture represents the head of a xiuhcóatl, which undoubtedly it formed part of the urban landscape of sacred precinct in Tenochtitlan. Although it was found in 1792, it was buried again, and finally taken out in 1886. There is another one very similar, but smaller, which was found in 1901 in the corner of Donceles and Argentina, very close to the cuauhxicalli in the shape of jaguar; nowadays it is on display in the Templo Mayor Museum.Arqlga. Bertina Olmedo Vera


  • Title: Xiuhcóatl
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: 1325/1521
  • Physical Location: México
  • Physical Dimensions: w1400 x h2200 x d1320 cm (complete)
  • Period: Posclásico Tardío (1250-1521 d.C.)
  • Centro Histórico, Ciudad de México: 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 Andesitico

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps