Head of a Rain God

Date: 10th–11th century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica, Yucatan

Culture: Maya

Medium: Fossiliferous limestone

Dimensions: H. 13 3/4 x W. 11 7/8 x D. 9 3/8 in. (34.9 x 30.2 x 23.8 cm)

Classification: Stone-Sculpture

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

Accession Number: 1978.412.24


One of the primary Mesoamerican gods was a rain deity of ancient origin known as Tlaloc by the Aztec peoples of central Mexico. The deity is identifiable by the large goggle eyes and fanged mouth, and in the Precolumbian era such deities were responsible for insuring that there was neither too much nor too little rain, an important and much revered role in every community. This Maya-Toltec example synthesizes central Mexican imagery with the Maya conception of the rain god. Carved of limestone and with faint traces of paint on its surface, the large staring eyes and bared teeth give it a skeletal aspect in spite of the head's substantial size and fleshy chin. The head was damaged in antiquity—the nose particularly—and separated from what was probably a full figure body. It was left in a pile of broken stone and ceramic pieces in a small Toltec temple at Chichén Itzá in northern Yucatan.