Calixtlahuaca (Mexique) : small collection of sculptures

Sculptures of Calixtlahuaca

Jennifer Burley /  Arizona State University

Source - 


Calixtlahuaca was a large urban center of the Matlatzinco culture, closely related to the Aztecs.

The small collection of sculptures that we have from Calixtlahuaca reflects the diversity of sculpture production at the site.

(SS-00-01) A composite photograph of anthropomorphic heads, shown here, exemplifies the varying sizes and styles. The anthropomorphic body appears to be a common theme in sculptural representation.


(SS-00-04) In addition to heads, we also have a relatively large number of sculptures of clothing and body parts. The object in the upper left is part of a headdress, and the object in the upper right is a hand that could have held something. The hand would have been part of a seated anthropomorphic figure with the arms rested on his crossed knees. I was able to identify sculptures similar to both of these in local museums. The object on the bottom left, I believe, is a conical shaped headdress.


(SS-00-03) Many of the sculptures or fragments we have are unknown pieces; a large portion of these are badly damaged. This photograph clearly illustrates the varying styles, sizes, and types of rocks used in sculpture production.


Based on visual analysis, I would like to offer some preliminary conclusions.First, anthropomorphic figures make up nearly half of the collection. If we include heads, body parts, and clothing at least 10 of the 22 sculptures are of anthropomorphic figures. This percentage may be higher, as there were a number of the objects that I was unable to identify. This is indicative of a general interest in the body, either deities or human beings, or both. It is not possible to determine whether these sculptures represent humans or supernatural beings, since we do not have any intact pieces, and there are no defining marks of deities on any of them. Second, there is little uniformity in size, style, and type of stone used. This signifies that the sculptures were not obtained from an organized labor or distribution source. The quality and lack of uniformity reflect local, rather than imperial-style production. Although there are examples of later imperial-style sculptures found at the site, such as the Calixtlahuaca Ehecatl, these were displayed in large-scale ceremonial contexts, while common people likely utilized locally made, cruder sculptures in their homes.


Garcia Payón, José. 1936. La Zona Arqueológica de Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca y los Matlatzincas. México: Talleres Gráficos de la Nación.

Umberger, Emily. 2007. “Historia del arte e Imperio Azteca: la evidencia de las esculturas.” Revista Española de Antropología Americana 37.2: 165-202.