Incense Burner: Figure of Macuilxóchitl
19 in. (48.3 cm)
Mixtec; made in Teotitlan del Camino, Oaxaca, Mexico
Medium and Support:
Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Location: Currently on view
Macuilxochitl, whose name means “Five Flower,” was the charming Mixtec patron god of dance, feasting, love, sexuality, and summer. Representations of Macuilxochitl were favored by women for their domestic shrines. Despite the seemingly fierce appearance of this figure, Macuilxochitl is identifiable by the flowers on his headband, the white butterfly wings around his mouth, and the vertical element of his helmet representing the crest of a bird.
This object would have been placed over burning incense that produced a great deal of smoke. The thick, white smoke that exited through the holes in the figure’s chest may have represented mother’s milk. The smoke that exited through the figure’s mouth may have been a form of communication with the gods. This complex object was a manifestation of life and agricultural cycles, transformation and renewal.
[Gallery label text, 2009]