Central Mexico, Aztec style (1325-1521), or modern forgery / Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcoatl) / 1325-1521Central Mexico, Aztec style (1325-1521), or modern forgery
Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcoatl)

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Creator Nationality: North American; Central American; Mesoamerican; Aztec
Creator Active Place: Central Mexico, Aztec style (1325-1521), or modern forgery
Creator Name-CRT: Central Mexico, Aztec style (1325-1521), or modern forgery
Title: Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcoatl)
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1325
Creation End Date: 1521
Creation Date: 1325-1521
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Stone
Dimensions: Overall: 27.4cm x 18.5cm x 19.8cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1941.46
Credit Line: Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
Rights: http://www.clemusart.com/museum/disclaim2.html
Style or Period: Aztec style (1325-1521), or modern forgery

The museum bought this sculpture in 1941, when study of ancient American arts was in its infancy. It has many odd features, a few perhaps revealing an attempt to make the subject-the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent)-palatable to modern viewers. But it cannot absolutely be declared fake because some real Aztec sculptures are unusual. Analysis of the surface so far provides no help.

Especially odd is the arrangement of the coils into bulges that suggest the pectorals, knees, and buttocks of a human body, as though the sculpture represents a human in a serpent costume. Real Aztec sculpture usually portrays the serpent's dangerous body more realistically (see photo). Also, the mouth mask-the insignia of a wind deity related to Quetzalcoatl and, thus, perhaps appropriate-is much larger in genuine sculptures. This suggests that, because the mask and its authentic proportion are strange to our eyes, a forger scaled it down. Other uncommon features include the incomplete carving of the ears, the fact that the human head does not emerge from a serpent's mouth, and more.

AMICA ID: CMA_.1941.46
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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