Coiled Serpent

Coiled Serpent

1400–1519 CE
Central Mexico
sculpture, snake
Volcanic stone
Funds From The Burgess Matching Trust And Other Donors

Unknown Aztec Artist, Coiled Serpent, about AD 1250-1500, central Mexico. Volcanic Stone; 10 ½” x 12” x 10 ¼”. Denver Art Museum Collection: Funds by Burgess Trust and various donors, 1989.8

This object is currently on view
height: 10.5 in, 26.6700 cm; width: 12 in, 30.4800 cm; depth: 10.25 in, 26.0350 cm
Mayer Center, Art of the Ancient Americas
Art of the Ancient Americas

Coiled Serpent
About A.D. 1400–1519
Central Mexico
Volcanic stone
Funds from the Burgess Matching Trust and other donors, 1989.8

Aztec stone sculpture is generally static in pose and compact in form.  Animals, including snakes, are represented frequently.  Usually these animals have symbolic meanings – they represent days or months in the calendar, illustrate mythical episodes, or refer to deities.  The rattle and huge fangs identify this carving as a supernatural rattlesnake.  With its rapid strike and venomous bite, the rattlesnake especially appealed to the aggressive, militaristic Aztecs.  More generally, snakes (which often live in holes in the ground and slither on their bellies) were closely associated with the earth.

Exhibition History
  • "Flora and Fauna as Metaphor," Mingei Museum, 9/14/90 - 2/19/91
  • “Stampede: Animals in Art” — Denver Art Museum, 9/10/2017

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