To the Aztecs, the jaguar symbolized power, courage, and war. The highest-ranking warriors were called jaguar and eagle warriors. Rulers associated themselves with Tezcatlipoca, or “Smoking Mirror,” a deity who sometimes took the form of a jaguar. Rulers were also depicted wearing and sitting on jaguar skins.
This sculpture, which may have adorned a military academy where jaguar warriors were trained, is an excellent example of Aztec naturalistic sculpture. Every part of the animal is carefully rendered, including the underside, where the paw pads are carved in low relief.
- Culture: Mexica (Aztec)
- Medium: Volcanic stone
- Place Found: Mexico
- Dates: 1400-1521
- Dimensions: 5 x 11 x 5 3/4 in. (12.7 x 27.9 x 14.6 cm) (show scale)
- Collections:Arts of the Americas
- Museum Location: This item is on view in Great Hall, 1st Floor
- Accession Number: 38.45
- Credit Line: Carll H. de Silver Fund
- Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
- Caption: Mexica (Aztec). Reclining Jaguar, 1400-1521. Volcanic stone, 5 x 11 x 5 3/4 in. (12.7 x 27.9 x 14.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Carll H. de Silver Fund, 38.45. Creative Commons-BY
- Catalogue Description: Reclining grey stone jaguar. Tail curved above one hind leg that rests on the other. All parts of the animal are carefully carved with the eyes and mouth open and the jaguar's two straight paws extending in front of body. The side of the tail is partly broken; the stone is chipped in a few places, but the overall condition is good.
- Record Completeness: Best (85%)