The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
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Pre-Columbian Americas
Mixtec culture, Mexico
Labret
Late Post-Classic period, 1200–1521
Gold
H. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 78.11.1

Mixtec craftsmen were known for their artistry in precious materials, including gold, which was not worked in Mexico until the Post-Classic period. This labret fit in a hole beneath the lower lip and was held in place by a flange resting against the lower gum and teeth. The depiction of the bird beak suggests that the labret may represent Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent and one of the most important Pre-Columbian deities, in his manifestation as the wind god, Ehecatl. The Aztecs believed that Ehecatl swept the streets before every rain.