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Art of the Ancient Americas
Artist: Unknown

Figure Holding a Staff and a Bag

A.D. 600–900

Volcanic stone

121.9 × 47 × 19.05 cm (48 × 18 1/2 × 7 1/2 in.)
other (Wooden pedestal mount): 64.77 × 76.2 × 35.56 cm(25 1/2 × 30 × 14 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Olsen
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.
Veracruz, Mexico
Not on view
Mexico, Cerro de la Morena, Misantla, Veracruz
Late Classic Period

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), 73–74, 241, no. 112, fig. 62.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 316, ill.

“New Acquisitions Issue,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 24, no. 1 (April 1958): 10, 12, fig. 1.

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.