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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
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Maker: Unknown

Tripod Vessel with Flower Mountain and Solar Deities

A.D. 400–650

Ceramic with stucco and pigment

13.7 × 13.3 cm (5 3/8 × 5 1/4 in.)
Gift of the Olsen Foundation
The people of Teotihuacan believed that divine messages appeared on the reflective surfaces of water-filled vessels, and this religious significance is sometimes expressed in the motifs with which these vessels were decorated. The stuccoed decoration of this tripod vessel consists of a sequence of three distinct iconographic elements, each depicted twice. The first element, the head of a rain deity, or perhaps one of the god’s attendants, appears in profile, wearing an elaborate headdress of plumage dripping with blood; a scroll, symbolizing speech or song, pours from his lips. The second element, a round mirror with its ring of plumage, is an instrument of augury. The third element, the tri-mountain symbol with plants growing from the peaks, probably signifies the Teotihuacan conception of the physical world.
On view
Mexico, Teotihuacan culture
Early Classic Period
Containers - Ceramics

Alfred Stendahl Gallery, Los Angeles, March 1, 1957; Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1958 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 44, 208–9, no. 32, roll out drawing of design, fig. 20.

Kathleen Berrin, Feathered Serpents and Flowering Trees: Reconstructing the Murals of Teotihuacan (San Francisco: de Young Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1988).

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.