Wearing a simple loincloth tied in front in a prominent knot, this strong male figure is seated on a massive block. The elaborate lashings of his sandals suggest that he is an individual belonging to a high social class, since commoners in Aztec society went mostly barefoot. The facial contours are rounded and soft, and there is a slight frown on the forehead; his mouth is half open as if speaking. His almond-shaped eyes once held inlays. The curved, deeply grooved line across the top of the face indicates the hairline, but the head itself is smooth with no striations to indicate hair. The man's upper body leans slightly forward, and the knees are held close against the chest. His left hand, carved in relief, rests on the left knee, while the right, now damaged, is a hollow fist supported by his right knee. Because of the position of the right hand, the figure has been called a "standard bearer" of the kind often placed at the top of a temple pyramid stairway holding standards tipped with banners.
The sculpture comes from the town of Castillo de Teayo in northern Veracruz, where a temple pyramid and a number of sculptures were discovered in 1903. The sculptures are carved in a provincial version of the metropolitan Aztec style.
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Date:15th–early 16th century
Geography:Mexico, Mesoamerica, Veracruz
Dimensions:H. 31 11/16 × W. 13 7/16 × D.13 1/16 in. (80.5 × 34.1 × 33.1 cm)
Credit Line:Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1962
Castillo de Teayo, Veracruz, until 1945; [John Wise Ltd., New York, until 1962]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Before Cortes. Sculpture of Middle America. A Centennial Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 30, 1970–January 3, 1971.
Center for Inter-American Relations. "Aztec Stone Sculpture," Wednesday, December 8, 1976 - Sunday, January 30, 1977.
Melgarejo Vivanco, José Luis. Historia de Veracruz, Jalapa. Vol. vol. 1. Mexico: Jalapa-Enríquez, 1949, p. 439.
Garcia Payon, Jose. "Castillo de Teayo. Noticias sobre su arqueologia." Uni-ver vol. 2, no. 16 (April 1950), pp. 155–64.
Seler, Eduard. Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur amerikanischen Sprach- und Altertumskunde. Berlin: A. Asher & Co., 1960.
Easby, Dudley T. Jr. "A man of the people." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art vol. 21, no. 4 (December 1962), pp. 133–140.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ninety-Second Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1961–1962." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art vol. 21 (October 1962), p. 41; cover.
von Winning, Hasso. Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America. New York: Abrams, 1968, pp. 240–41, 265, fig. 376.
Easby, Elizabeth Kennedy, and John F. Scott. Before Cortez: Sculpture in Middle America. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1970, no. 275.
Nicholson, Henry B. "Major Sculpture in Pre-Hispanic Central Mexico." In Handbook of Middle American Indians, edited by Gordon F. Ekholm, and Ignacio Bernal. Vol. vol. 10, part 1. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971.
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. 48.
Newton, Douglas. "The art of Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fall 1981), p. 26.
Solís Olguín, Felipe. Escultura del castillo de Teayo, Veracruz, México: catálogo. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1981.
Nicholson, H. B. Art of Aztec Mexico: Treasures of Tenochtitlan. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1983, pp. 82–83, no. 23.
Pasztory, Esther. Aztec Art. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1983, p. 212, pl. 170.
Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987, p. 131, fig. 96.
Watts, Edith. The Art of Ancient Mexico and Peru: Teachers' Packet. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1990, p. 19, fig. 19.
Solís Olguín, Felipe. Mexico en el mundo de las colecciones de arte: Mesoamerica, edited by Maria Luisa Sabau Garcia. Vol. vol.1. Mexico: D.R. Primera, 1994, p. 231.
Umberger, Emily. "Aztec Presence and Material Remains in the Outer Provinces." In Aztec Imperial Strategies, edited by Frances F. Berdan. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1996, pp. 151–79, fig. 7–10.
Umberger, Emily. "Historia del arte e Imperio Azteca: la evidencia de las esculturas." Revista Española de Antropología Americana vol. 37, no. 2 (2007), pp. 165–202.
López-Austin, Alfredo, and Leonardo López Luján. Monte sagrado: Templo Mayor. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City, 2009.
Pillsbury, Joanne. "Aztecs in the Empire City: 'The People without History' in The Met." The Metropolitan Museum Journal vol. 56 (2021), pp. 12–31; fig. 13, p. 25.
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