Quantcast
Videos ()
Nelson A. Rockefeller and His Daughter Mary Morgan on His Collecting

Close

Deity Censer (Xantil)

Date:
1200–1400
Geography:
Mexico, Mesoamerica
Culture:
Eastern Nahua
Medium:
Ceramic
Dimensions:
H. 22 5/8 x W. 15 1/8 x D. 9 in. (57.5 x 38.4 x 22.9 cm)
Classification:
Ceramics-Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1969
Accession Number:
1978.412.10
  • Description

    During the last few centuries before the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521, the people in the Tehuacan Valley in the southeast corner of the state of Puebla near Oaxaca produced unusual censer covers. Censers were braziers for holding incense (most commonly a tree resin widely called copal) that when burnt yielded abundant smoke. Tehuacán censer covers were known as xantiles, and are in the form of seated human figures with tubelike arms and legs, and a modeled head attached to the hollow, cylindrical body. The rising smoke escaped through the open, fanged mouth of this figure, and was a means of communicating with the gods. This figure is amply decorated with finely painted designs and wears prominent ear ornaments. The headcrest and rosettes with tassels on either side of the head suggest that Macuilxochitl-Xochipilli, god of music, dance, feasting, and sexuality, is depicted.

  • Provenance

    [Alfred E. Stendahl, Hollywood, CA, until 1956]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1956, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1956–1969; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1969.

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
309861

Close