Advanced Search

Xipe Totec

Artist/Maker: Aztec (Central Valley, Mexico)

Date: ca. 1350-1521
Medium: basalt
Overall: 11 1/2 x 6 x 8 in. (29.2 x 15.2 x 20.3 cm)
Classification: Art Works
Credit Line: Gift of The Rubin - Ladd Foundation
Object number: 2008.39.20
DescriptionThe god Xipe Totec, “our lord the flayed one,” symbolized the regeneration of the earth’s vegetation each spring and the harvest of corn each fall. Xipe Totec priests would wear the skin of a sacrificial victim for twenty days, or until it fell rotten from their bodies, to symbolize the ability of life to spring from death. Images of Xipe Totec are easily recognizable by the flayed skin worn by a priest. The skin is tied at the back of the body and head, and the eyes and mouth of the wearer emerge from facial openings. The great number of Xipe Totec images found throughout Mesoamerica reveals the widespread practice of his rituals as one of the most significant deities of agriculture and fertility. His representations are usually striking to the Western viewer given the apparent contrast between the calm attitude of the priest and the intrinsic violence of the ritual.
Not on view