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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
Artist: Unknown

Urn in the Shape of Pitao Cozobi, God of Maize

A.D. 300–600

Ceramic with pigment

44 × 27 × 21.7 cm (17 5/16 × 10 5/8 × 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.
Oaxaca, Mexico
On view
Mexico, Oaxaca, probably Monte Alban, Zapotec
Early Classic Period
Containers - Ceramics

Carlebach Gallery, New York, October 1, 1955; Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1973 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


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

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.

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

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.