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Lip Plug in the Form of an Eagle Head (teocuitcuauhtentetl)

Artist Culture
Late Postclassic period, c.1200–1521
Possibly associated with
Puebla state, México, North and Central America
Oaxaca state, México, North and Central America
Jewelry & personal accessories, metalwork
Current Location
On View, Gallery 114
9/16 x 1 1/8 x 1 1/2 in. (1.4 x 2.9 x 3.8 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Morton D. May
Public Domain
Object Number
With its exquisitely detailed feather arrangement around the head, prominent eyes, and menacing claw-like beak, this beautifully cast gold eagle head would have been worn by a warrior preparing for battle or ritual ceremony. The labret would have been inserted through a hole in his lower lip, with the radiance of the metal reflecting the light of the sun. Metalworking in central Mexico was probably introduced to the Mixtecs as a fully developed art from South America sometime in the thirteenth century. The neighboring Aztecs purchased such objects from their neighbors to use in sacred and political rituals; they called such objects teocuitlacuauhtentetl.
- 1968
Everett Rassiga Inc., New York, NY, USA

1968 - 1978
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, purchased from Everett Rassiga Inc. [1]

1978 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Morton D. May [2]

[1] An invoice dated June 11, 1968 from Everett Rassiga Inc. to Morton D. May documents this purchase, listed as "Besote (Lipplug) Head of Eagle / Mixtec / Gold: app. 2" long" [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum].

[2] A letter dated September 29, 1978 from Morton D. May to James N. Wood, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, includes the offer of this object as part of a larger donation [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Acquisitions Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, December 13, 1978.
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