Monumental Figure

Date: 9th century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica

Culture: Maya

Medium: Limestone

Dimensions: H. 84 1/2 x W. 24 x D. 20 in. (214.6 x 50.8 x 61cm)

Classification: Stone-Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1966

Accession Number: 66.181


Political unrest and shifting power characterized the years following the collapse of the magnificent dynastic centers in the central Maya lowlands around the tenth century. In contrast to the refined naturalism of eighth- and ninth-century Maya art, the sculpture of the later period is more Mexican in quality, with stronger rendering and a more aggressive, war-related imagery. Towering over the viewer, this larger-than-life freestanding warrior or guardian figure is dressed in loincloth, helmet, and facial armor, with a large, emblematic knot at the neck. The body is rigid and blocky, with appendages of unequal shape and size. The one remaining hand holds a long handled object, perhaps a club. Its two depressions may have been for the inlay of blades of obsidian, a volcanic glass. A shield was probably held in the now missing hand. The combination of Maya and Mexican imagery and style reflects the contact between the peoples of the Yucatan Peninsula, where the great center of Chichén Itzá was located, and those of highland Mexico and the powerful Toltec site of Tula.