7.9a.1 Figure of Chicomecóatl (the maize goddess)
Painted basalt sculpture of Chicomecóatl adorned with a large, rectangular headdress. The female figure holds ears of corn in both hands.
This statue represents the Nahua (or Mexica) goddess Chicomecóatl (Seven Snakes), the goddess of corn and plants that can be eaten. Representations of Chicomecóatl usually show red paint, ears of corn, and a special headdress (or hat) called a paper house. These were part of her iconography, symbols or characteristics that would signal to anyone seeing the figure that this was Chicomecóatl and not another goddess. The Nahua were polytheistic, meaning they believed in many gods and goddesses; Chicomecóatl was the most revered goddess among farmers. There were more statues of her than of any other god or goddess. This painted stone sculpture stands just about 2 feet high. It was carved in the Aztec Empire sometime between 1325 and 1521, before the Spanish Conquest.
This basalt sculpture features Chicomecóatl, the goddess of corn and edible plants. Students should observe how Aztec art depicted the goddess and should identify her attributes (the red dress and skin, the ears of corn, and the paper house headdress.) They should also recognize that there are many more statues of her than of the Aztec sun god, which was the primary god of Aztec rulers. Chicomecóatl was the goddess of farmers, the largest social group in every premodern society. The Florentine Codex, a manuscript source created in 1577, shows people offering crops to the goddess.