Aztecs, the sculpture collection at the Musée du quai Branly

The musée du quai Branly's Aztec sculpture collection features ninety artworks; this is one of the richest European collections, on a par with those in London, Berlin and Basle.  Most of the collection was assembled during the 19th century.

Many of these items belonged to the Louvre's museum of American Antiquities (1850-1887) before being transferred to the Trocadero's Ethnographical Museum, established in 1878. This museum became the musée de l'Homme in 1937. The principal donors include Alphonse Pinart, Emile Boban and Edouard Pingret.

These sculptures date from between 1350 and 1521 and their provenance is mostly from the Aztec capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, in the Mexico Basin. These artworks are between 40 cm and 50 cm high; they are made of local grey or reddish-grey volcanic rock and occasionally of a finer green stone, in jadeite or pyrite, and were kept in temples and hiding-places.  They were originally painted in lively colours; red, yellow, blue and black, traces of which can still be seen.

For the first time, this representative selection of Aztec statues brings together a number of images of male and female divinities. Academic research, particularly into the codices, has enabled the works' complex iconography to be better understood. Human and animal figures, some of which are hybrids, and plant representations have also been deciphered. 


192 pages 22 cm x 28 cm format

Many illustrations

Price : 55 €

ISBN 2-915133-09-3

Published by the musée du quai Branly

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Marie-France Fauvet-Berthelot was born in 1942, in Paris. She has a PhD in pre-history from the Université de Paris I-Sorbonne and was curator for the American collections in the musée de l'Homme from 1982 to 1987 and from 1999 to 2004.

Leonardo López Luján was born in 1964, in Mexico. He has a PhD in Archaeology form the Université de Paris X-Nanterre and is currently Senior Researcher and Professor of Archaeology at Museo del Templo Mayor, Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, in Mexico. He has been a member of the Templo Mayor programme since 1980.