Society and Customs in the Ancient Mexico

Due to the productivity achieved in the field, it was possible to sustain densely populated cities, where class differentiation and a significant labor specialization were developed.

El dios Tláloc, fragmento de pintura mural (0200/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

The god Tlaloc, mural painting fragment

Because of its technique, style and content, this fragment of mural painting undoubtedly comes from the ancient city of Teotihuacan. The theme of the image is religious and it most likely decorated a temple or monastery. Tlaloc is recognized in this image by his mask.

El dios Tláloc, fragmento de pintura mural (0200/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

The god Tlaloc, mural painting fragment

Vasija con forma de pato (-1200/-0800) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Duck-shaped vessel

It is very likely that the duck was one of the recurring themes in the clay sculptures of Tlatilco because its image went beyond the purely anecdotal. Its flight and its sounds were an essential part of the landscape  as well as being an important source of food.  

Vasija con forma de pato (-1200/-0800) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Duck-shaped vessel

Estela con gobernante en posición frontal (0600/0909) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Estela with ruler in the frontal position 

Stela with rounded cut at the top showing a character in the frontal position, wearing the ornaments of rulers and with ceremonial elements. A double connotation, royal and priestly, which the Late Classic Maya rulers liked to make use of.

Estela con gobernante en posición frontal (0600/0909) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Estela with ruler in the frontal position 

Figurilla de Xochiquetzal que carga a una criatura (1345/1521) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Figurine of Xochiquetzal carrying a child

This little hollow figurine has a hole in the base to let out hot air during firing, while the two holes at the level of the armpit served to hang the effigy, which was also a rattle thanks to the clay ball inside it.  

Figurilla de Xochiquetzal que carga a una criatura (1345/1521) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Figurine of Xochiquetzal carrying a child

Cetro con cabeza humana (-0500/0900) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Scepter with human head

This piece belongs to the Mezcala tradition and formed part of grave goods made up of several types of objects.  It seems that the majority of tombs of this tradition would only have held anthropomorphic figures, which probably represented the deceased or their ancestors. 

Cetro con cabeza humana (-0500/0900) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Scepter with human head

Señor en asiento (brasero) (0200/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Lord sitting (brazier)

Our small sculpture represents a character sitting on a bench with short inclined legs and wide horizontal support. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that the top of the sculpture of the character, in this case the headdress, fulfills the function of a brazier or a censer, which was used to burn some aromatic material, and in which smoke was produced.

Señor en asiento (brasero) (0200/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Lord sitting (brazier)

Tres cunas diminutas (-1000/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Three tiny cradles

The three figurines evidence an ancient tradition in the care of newborns for modeling the shape of the skull: in a simple cradle, likely made of some light and somewhat flexible material to facilitate transportation, the baby was immobilized at the forehead, chest and feet.  

Tres cunas diminutas (-1000/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Three tiny cradles

Hombre con atuendo de plumas (-1200/-0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Man with feathered attire

Our bird-man wears a sort of hat with a conical protrusion on the back; it has large circular ear-flaps, the red paint on the neck, hands and feet emphasize that he is wearing a costume; the same color stands out on his back, at the waist a knot from which a long ribbon hangs, and again, it can be noted that the individual wears a different skin.  

Hombre con atuendo de plumas (-1200/-0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Man with feathered attire

Trompeta de caracol con escena de combate (1200/1521) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Snail horn with combat scene

The snail horn was fundamental in combat; it was used to give signals to the army. But the snail does not only appear in painting and sculpting. Many snails forming part of offerings have also been found. These snail shells are frequently well carved, as in the example at hand.

Trompeta de caracol con escena de combate (1200/1521) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Snail horn with combat scene

Vaso-efigie (0900/1521) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Effigy-cup

The vessel shown has some qualities that identify it as part of the Puebla Mixtec tradition. The personage who is seen attached to the vessel carries a spear-thrower and a shield, which identifies him as a warrior.

Vaso-efigie (0900/1521) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Effigy-cup

Maqueta con escena ritual (-0300/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Mock-up with ritual scene

The culture of the shaft tombs includes outstanding sculptures that are featured in a wide range of architectural enclosures and are called "mock-ups". I propose that it depicts a ritual of a private nature involving collective ingestion, the ritual character of the scene sustains the burial origin of the piece.

Maqueta con escena ritual (-0300/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Mock-up with ritual scene

Escena de danza-lucha entre dos dioses (0200/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Dance-battle scene between deities

This painting, comparable to many others for its technique and style, is quite unique because it is not a sequence but a scene in itself. It would be correct to say that it encapsulates a narrative. There are two male personages with rich clothing and ornaments. Both are armed.  

Escena de danza-lucha entre dos dioses (0200/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Dance-battle scene between deities

Cabeza de una escultura olmeca (-1000/-0300) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Head of an Olmec sculpture

The piece is undoubtedly Olmec and must have been made at some point between the year 900 and the year 500 B.C., the golden age of the style and set of manifestations we call Olmec. These manifestations occurred in different regions of what we call Mesoamerica, which reveals a close communication between the rulers who strengthened their power in that era (the Middle Preclassic).   

Cabeza de una escultura olmeca (-1000/-0300) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Head of an Olmec sculpture

Vasija con la figura de un perro recostado (0200/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Vessel with the figure of a lying dog

This sculpture of a lying dog, finely modeled in clay, is an example of a very particular type of ceramic called thin orange, widely distributed in Mesoamerica during the classic period, that is very common in Teotihuacan.  

Vasija con la figura de un perro recostado (0200/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Vessel with the figure of a lying dog

Tapa de bóveda con pintura del dios K'awiil y texto jeroglífico (0600/0909) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Vault cover with painting of god K'awiil

This cover depicts the profile of the god K’awiil, holding a sack of maize or cocoa beans. When the figure of K’awiil is represented on vault covers, it is often linked to food and therefore closely related to agricultural abundance.   

Tapa de bóveda con pintura del dios K'awiil y texto jeroglífico (0600/0909) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Vault cover with painting of god K'awiil

Perra con mazorca entre los dientes (-0300/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Female dog with cob between the teeth

This sculpture represents a dog that has a cob on its snout. It is significant that the modeling of the body suggests that it is female, given that it can be interpreted as the image of a feminine ancestor of humanity.  

Perra con mazorca entre los dientes (-0300/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Female dog with cob between the teeth

Vaso cerámico con polvo de amatista en su interior (0600/0909) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Ceramic glass with amethyst powder inside

It is an undecorated cylindrical glass. The design of the glass is characteristic of the Late Classic period. It must have been deposited in a burial that suffered water leaks and it is possible that this is the reason why the walls appear to be covered with clay and dirt.  

Vaso cerámico con polvo de amatista en su interior (0600/0909) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Ceramic glass with amethyst powder inside

Vaso cónico de cuello angosto y boca amplia con representación del maíz (-1000/-0500) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Cone-shaped cup with narrow neck and wide mouth  

It is a cone-shaped vessel with a neck that has a narrow base and opens up towards the mouth, giving the impression of a second inverted cone. The color of the engobe, the type of burnishing and the iconography are compatible with the ceramic tradition of Tlatilco.  Its location inside a tomb is what allowed the vessel to be preserved without breaking or cracking.

Vaso cónico de cuello angosto y boca amplia con representación del maíz (-1000/-0500) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Cone-shaped cup with narrow neck and wide mouth

Vasija con la forma de un aguador sentado (-0300/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Vessel with the shape of a sitting water carrier

Our effigy vessel has the shape of a figure who represents a very frequent theme of Mesoamerican art; a carrier who has a vessel on his back, held by a tumpline.  The tumpline was an indispensable element of the carrying technique of the Mesoamerican people, whose beginnings are in the Preclassic Period and which, to date, survives in some areas of Mexico.

Vasija con la forma de un aguador sentado (-0300/0600) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Vessel with the shape of a sitting water carrier

Escultura que presenta tres cuartas partes del cuerpo de un varón (0600/0909) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Sculpture showing three quarters of a male body

The prominent forehead and the swollen cheeks that the figure shows are common in some sculptures in the city of Oxkintok, located in the region of Puuc of the state of Yucatan. These sculptures formed a part of the decoration of the columns that separated the spaces of the palace Ch’iich, colloquially known as the “gorditos de Oxkintok”, for they effectively showed thick and round physical features that greatly differ from the stylized aesthetics of the Classic Maya. 

Escultura que presenta tres cuartas partes del cuerpo de un varón (0600/0909) by DesconocidoAmparo Museum

Sculpture showing three quarters of a male body

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