Aztec Double-Headed Serpent

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Illustration

by Neil Henderson
published on 03 January 2014

A detail of the celebrated Aztec double-headed serpent. It is made from wood covered in turquoise mosaic, spondylus (red) and conch (white) shell. The eyes would have been rendered with inlay, probably of iron pyrite. The piece is believed to have been part of a ceremonial costume, worn as a pectoral. The snake was a potent image in Aztec religion and strongly associated with several deities, notably Quetzalcoatl. 15th-16th century CE. (British Museum, London)

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