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Chalchiuhtlicue Needs You!

Posted on by tamsp

Chalchiuhtlicue, 1200-1521 [pronunciaton: chal-chee-oo-TLEE-kweh]
Gray basalt, red ochre
Gift of Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis, MN 2009.33

This label needs YOU!

What do you want to know about this object? Here’s your chance to ask. The curator will use your questions to revise this object label. Leave your responses in the Comments section below. Check back here after July 1 to see the new label shaped by your input.

What’s this all about?

This is one of three objects from the ancient Americas whose labels need your feedback. Next time you’re at the museum, be sure to stop by the “This label needs YOU!” podium in Gallery 260 to leave input for the Chimu Earspools and the Nayarit House Group as well.


Current Label

Depicted here in their classic monumental style, Chalchiuhtlicue, “She of the jade skirt”, played an important role in the Aztec belief system. Wife of the rain god Tlaloc, she was the goddess of lakes and streams, embodying water’s gentle and restorative aspects. Women experiencing pregnancy and childbirth prayed to Chalchiuhtlicue for her protection. She was also connected to agricultural fertility and maize, a staple crop of the Aztec. The hands of this altar figure would have held corn stalks or other elements related to this role. The vertical incisions on the goddess’s face, marking her high status and association with water, would have contained shell or precious stone, as would have the cavity in her chest, symbolic of her heart.

What do you see? What do you think? What do you want to know?
Leave your responses in the Comments section below.

13 Responses to Chalchiuhtlicue Needs You!

Joanne Platt says: May 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I have read that often Aztec female goddesses would be portrayed as kneeling. Is there some significance to our sculpture depicted as standing? Also, can you provide information regarding her headpiece or hairstyle?

marianna priest says: May 21, 2011 at 10:21 am

What is the origin of her name, i.e. why was she called “She of the jade skirt?”

Do we have any idea about how far back in years the mythological beliefs extend?

Beverly Cottman says: May 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Please explain “classical monumental style” and how the incisions on her face show an “association with water.”
Does the shape of the knot at the back of her headpiece have any significance?
The dimensions of this object are not needed if I am viewing it in the gallery but necessary if I am reading about it before I try to locate it.
Should it say agricultural fertility of maize and other crops? Or is the association only with maize?
Is she the only goddess who wore a jade skirt?

Lorika says: May 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I would like to know why it was created and how it was used? Was she in a temple of some kind to be worshiped? Or used in ceremonies, or carried around? Also, was it believed that the statue embodied the goddess, or was just a representation?

So great to have input!

kristen says: May 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I know the Aztecs invaded the territory where they established their empire. They borrowed and syncretized much of their cosmology from predecessors like the Toltec. Is this goddess seen in previous cultures that occupied the region prior to the Aztecs? Was she a goddess if elites or did conquered tributary societies also embrace?

Todd says: June 1, 2011 at 11:08 am

Why are her hands open? Was she holding something? What would the significance of that something be?

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