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Mexica Chicomecoatl

Mexica Chicomecoatl
(seven snakes), the maize goddess

AD 1325–1521
Probably Tenochtitlan, Mexico
70 x 30 x 15 cm
Fred Braun Collection

Chicomecoatl, or seven serpents, female spirit of corn and sustenance, was the most revered deity among the farmers of Central Mexico. Countless images of Chicomecoatl were produced, from humble and crudely carved sculptures for family worship in rural communities, to exquisite sculptures such as this one, which was probably placed in a temple. The maize goddess Chicomecoatl was the female counterpart of the maize god, Cintéotl. She is often depicted, as seen here, holding two ears of corn in each hand.

Chicomecoatl’s images are the most common divine representations in Mexica sculpture; this late Postclassic three-dimensional sculpture is an especially fine depiction of her. She is wearing a feathered headdress, and her face, tunic, sash, hands and legs are painted red. Every autumnal equinox a young girl personifying Chicomecóatl was sacrificed by Mexica priests, who decapitated the girl, collected her blood, and poured it over a figurine of the goddess.

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