MAm 05398

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Sculpture in stone depicting the god Tlaloc

Americas, Mexico

Prior to 1889


Joseph Anton Dorenberg (Entrepreneur and diplomat)

Donation to the museum by Dorenberg in 1889

MAm 05398

Among the classical pre-Hispanic cultures of Mexico, Tlaloc was a widely worshipped deity of rain, weather, and fertility. His name in Nahuatl means "He who makes things sprout."

Several months of the ritual calendar were devoted to Tlaloc and his auxiliary deities. Believers lived in fear of his wrath, which could manifest itself in storms and diseases such as rheumatism. As here, Tlaloc is often depicted wearing a mask with large round eyes and fangs.

The collector, Joseph Anton Dorenberg (1846–1935), was a German entrepreneur and diplomat. He served as a volunteer soldier in Mexico (1865–67), then settled there and became a successful businessman. From 1887–1912 he served as Belgian consul in Mexico. In 40 years, he amassed collections of over 4500 ethnographic and archaeological objects from Mexico, some of which he took out of the country in diplomatic baggage despite an export ban. In Leipzig, where he was long listed as a "patron" of the museum, he amassed a collection of 221 objects; of these, about 60 pieces are still extant after the December 1943 bombing raid.

Frank Usbeck