The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
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Pre-Columbian Americas
Zapotec culture, Oaxaca, Mexico
Urn in the Form of a Seated Figure
Monte Albán II, 200 B.C.–A.D. 200
H. 11 7/16 in. (29.1 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 2010.51

Elaborately decorated funerary urns are a hallmark of the Pre-Columbian Zapotec culture. This figure may represent an archaic form of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec plumed serpent. If that is correct, then this is one of the earliest associations of a serpent deity with a bill-type mask that would later, among the Aztecs, indicate Quetzalcoatl in his guise as Ehecatl, the wind god. Ehecatl is represented in the Wielgus Collection in the form of a Mixtec gold labret.