Arts of the Americas
On View: Great Hall, 1st Floor
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.
5 x 11 x 5 3/4 in. (12.7 x 27.9 x 14.6 cm) (show scale)
Carll H. de Silver Fund
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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
overall, 38.45_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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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.
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