Tripod Vessel, Ceramic, red ochre, Teotihuacan

Tripod Vessel

4th–5th century
Mexico, Mesoamerica
Ceramic, red ochre
H. 9 5/8 x Diam. 9 5/8 in. (24.4 x 24.4 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 358
Bowls with three sturdy feet and more or less straight sides are so identified with central highland Teotihuacan that their presence anywhere else in Mexico is considered evidence of the great city's influence. Teotihuacan tripods were made in a wide range of size, color, and surface treatment, and were widely disseminated in ancient Mesoamerica, whether by trade or by warfare is not completely resolved. The present example is reported to be from a burial site in the Basin of Mexico called Santiago Ahuizotla, which is known to have been dug in the 1940s by local inhabitants. The surface is carved in very low relief; the main motif is a large feathered headdress. Smaller symbols are stacked in the center of the headdress—a half-star at the top, a feathered eye in the center, and a "reptile-eye" at the bottom. Scholars associate the reptile-eye with mortuary symbolism, underscoring the probable burial function of the vessel.
[Stendahl Art Galleries, Los Angeles, until 1955]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1955, on loan to the Museum of Primitive Art, 1956–1978

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 578.