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Vessel in the Form of the Head of the Old Fire God

In Pre-Columbian iconography from the Formative through the Post-Classic periods, the Old Fire God is depicted with a beard, wrinkled face, nearly toothless mouth, and earspools, as shown here. The Aztec called him Huehuetéotl, which means “old, old deity, ” and considered him a household deity. In one of their creation myths, he was considered the ultimate creator, mother and father of gods and people. Though we cannot be certain the Old Fire God had the same associations for earlier peoples, the consistency of his depictions over time and the Aztec acknowledgment of his antiquity suggest that his essence remained constant.

Cerro de las Mesas, Veracruz, Mexico
Vessel in the Form of the Head of the Old Fire God
Early Classic period, 300–600
H. 8 ¾ in. (22.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 77.93