Not on view

Stone stelae in ancient Mesoamerica served as territorial markers, calendric or historic monuments, or markers for the ritual ballgame. This example, sculpted in a reddish volcanic stone in a style associated with the central Mexican metropolis of Teotihuacan, consists of a circular medallion atop a plan rectangular body. The main disk is carved in relief to reference a perishable feathered standard, in which a central roundel is surrounded by a spray of feathers. The circular field in the center contains an abstracted image. Three circular areas in a horizontal line hover above a u-shaped motif, below which emerge other round shapes.

The moustache-shaped icon and round shapes are associated with the Teotihuacan deity for rain and storms. This abstracted form appears in ceramics, mural painting, and almenas, which are roof ornaments in many of the multi-family apartment compounds and palaces of the city. The Storm God at Teotihuacan is often visually associated with lightning, watery imagery, agricultural fertility, mountains, specific colors, and the earthly quincunx formed by the cardinal directions and a central point.

The Storm God, as in other ancient Mesoamerican societies, had close associations with rulership and martial power. If the stela came from outside of the valley of Teotihuacan itself, it could represent evidence of the imperial expansion of Teotihuacan’s rulers into other parts of Mexico.

Further reading

Anderson, Kasper Wrem, and Chrisophe Helmke. The Personifications of Celestial Water: The Many Guises of the Storm God in the Pantheon and Cosmology of Teotihuacan. Contributions in New World Archaeology 5, pp. 165-196, 2013.

Berrin, Kathleen, and Esther Pasztory. Teotihuacan: Art from the City of the Gods. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1993.

Carballo, David M. Effigy Vessels, Religious Integration, and the Origins of the Central Mexican Pantheon. Ancient Mesoamerica Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 53-67, 2007.

Carballo, David M., Kenneth G. Hirth, and Barbara Arroyo. Teotihuacan: The World Beyond the City. Dumbarton Oaks, 2020.

Cowgill, George L. State and Society at Teotihuacan. Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 26, pp. 129-161, 1997.

Easby, Elizabeth Kennedy, and John F. Scott. Before Cortez: Sculpture in Middle America. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1970, no. 111.

Headrick, Annabeth. The Teotihuacan Trinity: The Sociopolitical Structure of an Ancient Mesoamerican City. University of Texas Press, 2007.

Jones, Julie, Susan Mullin Vogel, and Emily Umberger. Notable Acquisitions (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (1980–1981), pp. 72–74.

Manzanilla, Linda R. Cooperation and tensions in multiethnic corporate societies using Teotihuacan, Central Mexico, as a case study. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Vol. 112, No. 30, pp. 9210-9215, 2015.

Nielson, Jesper, Elizabeth Jiménez García, and Iván Rivera. Across the Hills, toward the Ocean: Teotihuacan-Style Monuments in Guerrero, Mexico. In, Joshua D. Englehardt and Michael D. Carrasco, eds., Interregional Interaction in Ancient Mesoamerica, pp. 176-209. University Press of Colorado, 2019.

Nielson, Jesper, and Chrisophe Helmke, The Storm God: Lord of Rain and Ravage, in Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, Matthew Robb, ed., pp. 138-143. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017.

Pasztory, Esther. Teotihuacan: An Experiment in Living. University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Ruiz Gallut, María Elena, and Jesús Torres Peralta, eds. Arquitectura y urbanismo: pasado y presente de los espacios en Teotihuacan: Memoria de la Tercera Mesa Redonda de Teotihuacan. Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2005.

Sarro, Patricia J., and Matthew H. Robb. Passing through the Center: The Architectural and Social Contexts of Teotihuacan Painting. In Cynthia Kristan-Graham and Laura M. Amrhein, eds., Memory Traces: Analyzing Sacred Space at Five Mesoamerican Sites, pp. 21-43. University Press of Colorado, 2015.

Sugiyama, Saburo. Human Sacrifice, Militarism, and Rulership: Materialization of State Ideology at the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, Teotihuacan. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Taube, Karl A. The Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Cult of Sacred War at Teotihuacan. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 21, pp. 53-87, Spring, 1992.

Turner, Andrew. Unmasking Tlaloc: The Iconography, Symbolism, and Ideological Development of the Teotihuacan Rain God. In Anthropomorphic Imagery in the Mesoamerican Highlands: Gods, Ancestors and Human Beings, Brigitte Faugere and Christopher S. Beekman, eds. University Press of Colorado, 2020.

Stela, Stone, traces of red pigment, Teotihuacan

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