Storm God Vessel


Not on view

This drinking or libation vessel is carved entirely from steatite, or soapstone. The artist invested a considerable amount of labor in this depiction of what is likely the Teotihuacan Storm God, recognized by the prominent fanged mouth and circular eyes. The head of the god lies on the neck of the vessel and is marked by a prominent upper lip with four fangs, accentuated by a drilled hole beneath the teeth. The deity is shown squatting on the vessel; his legs and sandaled feet are shown on the side of the vessel's body. His left hand grasps a bundle of darts, while his right holds what is likely a spear thrower with which he could hurl the darts. Many similar vessels have been found at Teotihuacan, most recently in the tunnel excavations under the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. There is also a depiction of the Storm God himself holding two of these vessels in the murals of the Tepantitla compound.

In ancient Mesoamerica, gods of rain and storms were often depicted with weapons, symbolizing their power to wield damaging lighting and thunder. The Storm God at Teotihuacan is often depicted 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.

Further reading

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.

Coe, Michael D., and Emile Deletaille. Rediscovered Masterpieces of Mesoamerica: Mexico-Guatemala-Honduras. Boulogne, France, 1985, p. 121, pl. 159.

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

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

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.

Murakami, Tatsuya. Entangled Political Strategies: Rulership, Bureaucracy, and Intermediate Elites at Teotihuacan. In Sarah Kurnick and Joanne Baron, eds., Political Strategies in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, pp. 153-179. University Press of Colorado, 2016.

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.

Storm God Vessel, Stone, Teotihuacan

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