Art of the Ancient Americas
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Unknown

Urn in the Shape of Pitao Cozobi, God of Maize

A.D. 300–600

Ceramic with pigment

44 x 27 x 21.7 cm (17 5/16 x 10 5/8 x 8 9/16 in.)
Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, Fund
Figures such as this, which commonly appear on urns from Oaxaca, have been identified variously as Cocijo, the Zapotec god of rain and lightning; Pitao Cozobi, the Zapotec god of maize; or their impersonator. Here, corncobs sprout from the feathered headdress,
their growth made possible by the lightning, clouds, and rain (symbolized by the S-shaped emblems in the band below the feathers). The figure sits atop a box with a glyph for a place name.
Mexico, Oaxaca, probably Monte Alban, Zapotec
Early Classic Period
Containers - Ceramics
On view

Ex-Collection: Fred Olsen
Receipt from Carlebach Gallery, October 1, 1955:
#19600/370 One Archaic Mexican funeral urn, depicting high priest with breast shield, Monte Alban, Oaxaca.
in pen on margin: Zapotec urn


“Acquisitions, 1973,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 35, no. 1 (Summer 1974): 76, illustrated p. 56, ill.

Lee Allen Parsons, Pre-Columbian Art: The Morton D. May and The Saint Louis Art Museum Collections, exh. cat. (New York: Harper & Row, 1980).

George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 102–3, 261, no. 210, fig. 102.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 317, ill.

Mary E. Miller, The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec, 5th ed. (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012), 113–16, fig. 100.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.