Collection Online
78.7 × 119.6 × 45.0 cm
Place/s of Execution
Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán, West Mexico, Mexico
Accession Number
Pre-Columbian Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented anonymously, 1980
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Level 2, NGV International

Chacmool sculptures are thought to have originated from the Toltec site of Tula in the early Post-Classic period. The term chacmool literally means ‘red/great jaguar paw’ in Yucatec Mayan language. A nineteenth-century explorer coined the term to describe the large reclining figures found on temples at the Maya site of Chichen Itza. All chacmools follow a schematic form where the figure reclines with knees bent and the head sits vertical to the ground, facing 90 degrees from the body. The hands of the figure hold a receptacle, believed to have contained offerings. This example originates from Michoacán where a powerful Post-Classic civilisation known as the Tarascan kingdom flourished.