Figure Holding a Staff and a Bag Artist: Unknown

A.D. 600–900

Art of the Ancient Americas

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

This stele may be one of a pair that once flanked a doorway of a temple, since only one side is carved with a scroll. The erection of stele was usually a Maya custom, but Gulf Coast people occasionally adopted the practice, as at Cerro Moreno. The figure on this monument strikes a common Maya pose, with feet turned out. Wearing the ritual garb of Tlaloc, the central Mexican rain god, he may be a priest or deity. Aspects of the iconography of this particular panel also appear at Chichen Itza in murals (Lower Temple of the Jaguars) that depict individuals with staffs and bags. Proskouriakoff has pointed out other similarities between this panel and those of the Maya area. The figure stands in the typical Late Classic Maya pose, with feet facing outward at a 180 angle. The use of scrolls to fill the background is also found in the northern Maya region at Stele, Dzilam, and on sculpted jambs at the Codz Poop, Kabah. The figure on this panel has been described as wearing a Tlaloc mask similar to that in a representation of Tlaloc in the Codex Magliabecchiano. Some elements, however, such as the circumscribed eye and mustache-lip form, also appear on Veracruz yokes, suggesting that the influence may have come earlier in the Classic period, probably from Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan-type figurines have been discovered in early contexts in southern Veracruz sites, such as Cerros de las Mesas. Many of these figurines represent deities, including Tlaloc.


Volcanic stone


48 × 18 1/2 × 7 1/2 in. (121.9 × 47 × 19.1 cm)
wooden pedestal mount: 25 1/2 × 30 × 14 in. (64.8 × 76.2 × 35.6 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Olsen

Accession Number



Late 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.



Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1958 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 316, ill
  • George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 73–74, 241, no. 112, fig. 62
  • "New Acquisitions Issue," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 24, no. 1 (April 1958), 10, 12, fig. 1
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

human figures (visual works), mythology

Technical metadata and APIs


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