Tripod Vessel with Flower Mountain and Solar Deities Maker: Unknown

A.D. 400–650

Art of the Ancient Americas

On view, 1st floor, Art of the Ancient Americas

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.


Ceramic with stucco and pigment


13.7 × 13.3 cm (5 3/8 × 5 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Olsen Foundation

Accession Number



Early Classic Period


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 records is ongoing.



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

Object/Work type

botanical, mythology, religious art, utilitarian objects, vessels

Technical metadata and APIs


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