Head of Xochipilli-Macuilxochitl, God of Pleasure, Games and Music Artist: Unknown

ca. 1500

Art of the Ancient Americas

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

As the Aztec Empire expanded outward in all directions from its capital at Tenochtitlán, imperial artists appropriated the art of vanquished peoples, incorporating captured styles and media into images of Aztec historical figures and deities. With the incursion into Veracruz, artisans adopted the local tradition of large-scale ceramic sculptures. This highly naturalistic ceramic head, with almond-shaped eyes and a slightly open mouth, once belonged to a full-figure sculpture; the figure would have been represented either in a seated or standing position. The center of the headdress, originally consisting of five vertical stalks (only three remain), is thought to symbolize the crest of a feathered eagle, marking this as the head of Xochipilli-Macuilxochitl, deity of music, flowers, song, and games.




11 × 8 3/8 × 6 11/16 in. (27.9 × 21.3 × 17 cm)

Credit Line

Gift from the Estate of Alice M. Kaplan

Accession Number



Late Postclassic 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.



Reportedly excavated in November 1964 at Tres Zapotes, Veracruz; Walter Randel Collection, New York (1965);The Alice M. Kaplan Collection
  • Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 190, 183–84, pl. 175, ill
  • Felipe Solis, ed., El Imperio Azteca: Obras de la exposicion, Spanish ed., exh. cat. (Bilbao, Spain: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2005), 15, no. 17
  • Felipe Solis, ed., The Aztec Empire: Catalogue of the Exhibition, exh. cat. (New York: Guggenheim Museum Publications, 2004), 72, no. 331, pl. 176
  • Felipe Solis, ed., The Aztec Empire, Curated by Felipe Solis, exh. cat. (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2004), 305, fig. 176
  • "Acquisitions 2001," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2002), 128, ill
  • Linda Bantel, The Alice M. Kaplan Collection, exh. cat. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), 48–49, fig. 17
  • Elizabeth Kennedy Easby and John F. Scott, Before Cortés, Sculpture of Middle America: A Centennial Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from September 30, 1970 through January 3, 1971, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1970), 298, no. 276, fig. 276
  • Pre-Columbian Art in New York: Selection from Private Collections, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Primitive Art, 1969), fig. 93
  • Pre-Columbian Art of Latin America, exh. cat. (Ithaca, N.Y.: Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art, Cornell University, 1966), 28, fig. 65
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

figures (representations), heads (representations), mythology, religious art

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