Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn

Life-Death Figure

This sculpture exemplifies the dualism that permeates Huastec and Aztec art. One side of this sculpture is a living figure; the other is skeletal. The living figure wears a conical hat, ear spools, and a skirt. The eyes and ear spools probably once held inlays. The deep depression in the navel, the symbolic heart of the figure, may have been used for ritual offerings. The skeletal figure wears a conical hat adorned with feathers and has clawed feet. This sculpture has been interpreted as a cult statue to the god Quetzalcoatl or as a representation of a Huastec ruler.