Xipe Totec Art Analysis

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Almost hidden away in LACMA’s Art of the Ancient Americas exhibit, among the intricate and sophisticated works of art from the ancient civilizations of Mexico and South America, is a small unassuming figure of a prominent Aztec deity – Xipe Totec. Xipe Totec is both god of spring and vegetation, as well as the patron of goldsmiths (Britannica). The Xipe Totec stone sculpture at LACMA stands at twenty-five inches high and ten inches wide and is carved from basalt by an Aztec artist from the Basin of Mexico around 1400-1521 (LACMA). Even thought the figure may seem modest at first glance, upon closer inspection the viewer can see a gruesome story quietly being told through exquisite Aztec sculpture. His name is translated as “Our Lord the Flayed…show more content…
Starting from the top, at the head, the viewer sees a fine line that traces the hairline, moving down in front of the ears, and down following the jawline. The ears themselves are carefully carved to show the folds of the ear, and at the earlobe on both ears is a small hole. Perhaps the holes were added to embellish the statue with earrings, although the true purpose for the ear holes is unknown. The face contains faint eyebrows, notably small and tight eyes, a swollen nose and the figure’s mouth, which resembles a wide toothy grin. The face itself is quite generalized and almost appears too simple and elementary. But, upon second glance the viewer can see what is actually being presented, which is the mask being worn on the costume wearers face. The tight eyes and the swollen nose are that of the of the sacrificial victim’s face, and the illusion of a grin comes from the outstretched withered lips of the mask on top of the costume wearers…show more content…
Even though the statue is rigid and stiff in posture, the humanity of the costume wearer shines from behind his gruesome costume. The artistry of the sculptor displays what a horrific but extraordinary honor it must have been to be chosen as a suit wearer. That is the beauty of viewing ancient artifacts, it allows a person to travel back in time for a moment and attempt to step into the mindset of past civilizations. This has the magical effect of truly connecting humans past and present, who otherwise never have been brought
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