Lot 147
  • 147

Aztec Stone Feathered Serpent Postclassic, circa AD 1300-1521

20,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • stone
  • Height: 11 in (27.9 cm)


Herbert Baker, Chicago and Los Angeles, acquired by 1963
Thence by descent

Catalogue Note

Solís and Velasco Alonso note that when the migrating Aztecs reached the center of present day Mexico they inhabited the ruins of the ancient city of Tula, the capital of the Toltecs, where they were “amazed at the achievements of its erstwhile inhabitants.” (Solís and Velasco Alonso in Royal Academy, ed., Aztecs, London, 2002, p. 427). The Aztecs adopted the cult of the God Quetzacoatl, “the fabled founder and ruler of the city. They found the deity depicted as a serpent (his name means ‘feathered serpent’) and developed various versions of this image” (ibid.), which for the Aztecs symbolized fertility and abundance.

The present sculpture represents the divine serpent with great intensity. Its feathered body wraps around itself in a tortuous ball which suggests that the snake is the nucleus of energy and life. The dynamic energy of the body comes to repose in the head, which glares hypnotically. The sides of the mouth are curled back, opening at the front to reveal a pair of fangs and a forked tongue which slithers out.

See Royal Academy, ed., Aztecs, London, 2002, pp. 162 and 418, cat. no. 78, for a feathered serpent of similar form in the Fundación Televisa, Mexico City (inv. no. 21 pj. 8).