Unknown artist, Aztec
Spider monkey, 1200-1521
35.6 x 26.7 x 24.8 cm (14 x 10 1/2 x 9 13/16 inches)
Mary B. Jackson Fund 43.545
An exceptional work of art in a difficult medium, this spider monkey is realistically portrayed at life size with its tail non-chalantly wound around its right arm. Its earrings —-shell ornaments representing pleasure —-mark it as the animal counterpart of the deity Xochipilli-Macuilxochit and as one of the twenty day signs in each of the thirteen months constituting the Mesoamerican divinatory calendar. Both deity and animal counterpart were associated with pleasurable activities such as music, dance, festivals, and sex. Male children born under this sign were thought to be happy, gregarious, well-disposed, and artistic.