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Man Carrying a Cacao Pod

Arts of the Americas

The importance of maize (corn) and chocolate, two of the many plants native to the Americas, is exemplified by these Aztec sculptures.

The relief panel of the maize goddess Chicomecóatl may have been set into an altar. Chicomecóatl controlled the positive and negative powers of growth and famine. Her elaborate headdress is topped by two ears of corn. In her right hand, she holds a snake-shaped rattle staff, used to penetrate and fertilize the soil.

The man carrying a cacao pod may represent one of the merchants who brought cacao beans from the tropical coastal lowlands to the Valley of Mexico. Chocolate, made from the beans of the cacao pod, was a popular drink in Aztec society.
MEDIUM Volcanic stone, traces of red pigment
  • Place Found: Amatlan, Mexico
  • DATES 1440–1521
    DIMENSIONS 14 1/4 x 7 x 7 1/2in. (36.2 x 17.8 x 19.1cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1940, provenance not yet documented; before 1940, acquired by Guillermo M. Echániz of Mexico City, Mexico; February 14, 1940, purchased from Guillermo M. Echániz by the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Figure of a man carrying a cacao pod. Left hand holds stem attached to top of pod; right hand rests on middle of pod. Eyes and mouth are open. Traces of red pigment are visible around mouth, ear and central ornament on figure's headdress. Figure wearing traditional loincloth (maxtlatl). Condition: good; right arm is cracked and repaired; feet are broken off; small section of stone on finger near knuckle of right hand is missing; some surface chipping overall.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Aztec. Man Carrying a Cacao Pod, 1440–1521. Volcanic stone, traces of red pigment, 14 1/4 x 7 x 7 1/2in. (36.2 x 17.8 x 19.1cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 40.16. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 40.16_front_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 40.16_front_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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