Hunchback Leaning on Staff

Date: 10th–12th century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica, Veracruz

Culture: Huastec

Medium: Sandstone

Dimensions: H. 35 x W. 5 3/4 x D. 14 3/4 in. (88.9 x 14.6 x 37.5 cm)

Classification: Stone-Sculpture

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1963

Accession Number: 1978.412.17


A fluidly abstract human form depicts a bald-pated man resting his chin on a staff that curves toward his body and extends down beneath his large feet. A sculpture of old age, the loinclothed figure has a lined face, stooped posture, hunched back, and sagging knees. There is no separation between the arms, and they terminate in overly large, five-fingered hands that grasp the top of the staff. A separation of the legs is indicated by a deep incised line only. Large open negative spaces emphasize the enclosing forms that bind them and add to the graphic quality of the work. It has been suggested that the "staff" may depict a dibble stick used for planting and that the figure may represent the Huastec thundergod Mam, who was associated with fertility and a bountiful harvest.