Kneeling Female Figure, Stone, pigment, Aztec

Kneeling Female Figure

15th–early 16th century
Mexico, Mesoamerica
Stone, pigment
Overall: 21 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (54.61 x 26.67 cm)
Other: 10 1/2 in. (26.67 cm)
Credit Line:
Museum Purchase, 1900
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 358
Aztec sculptors used specific formal and aesthetic conventions to depict the human figure. Seated female figures are usually shown with their legs tucked under them, their feet turned inward so that in the back their toes are touching. Their hands rest on their knees. This sculpture depicts an elegant Aztec lady wearing a short, simple skirt fastened around the waist with a knotted belt worked in low relief. She wears no upper garment. Circular ornaments bedeck her ears. Her hair is wound about her head in two strands and held at the top. Her face has delicate rounded contours and is gently animated. The eyes and mouth are shown as recessed ovals which once contained inlays. Sculptures of females without any deity attributes are rare in Aztec art. It is possible that this figure was dressed on specific days of the ritual calendar in deity costumes made of cloth and/or other perishable materials.
Louis Petich Collection, New York, before 1893, on loan to Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1894–1900

Pasztory, Esther. Aztec Stone Sculpture: Exhibition catalogue, December 8, 1976–January 30, 1977, the Center for Inter-American Relations. New York: Center for Inter-American Relations, 1976, no. 50.