Description & Technical information

Theater-Type Ceremonial Censer Representing The Funerary Mummy Of A Butterfly Warrior - TEOTIHUACAN - Mexico - 450 – 650 A. D. - Pre-Columbian

Height : 61.4 cm

Width : 38 cm

Depth : 25.4 cm

Beige-brown hollow terracotta with white paint and traces of manganese oxide

Documents (originals) provided to the acquirer:

- Certificate of authenticity of the Galerie Mermoz,

Santo Micali, Expert, (CNE) Compagnie Nationale des Experts

- Certificate of Art Loss Register

- Passport of free circulation

- Thermoluminescence report

- Invoice

This extremely sophisticated work is a ceremonial incense burner typical of the great civilization of Teotihuacan, which ruled Mesoamerica between 200 and 700 A.D., from the sanctuary of the same name, located in the central highlands northeast of the Mexico City basin. It represents the funerary mummy of a great deceased warrior destined to be cremated. The richness and quality of this piece, made up of numerous ornamental and symbolic elements, indicate the high rank of the dignitary and perhaps his attachment to a particular group within the cosmopolitan society of Teotihuacan. More generally, they testify to the importance of warfare in the "city of the gods" and the honors accorded to its deceased military leaders.


Used to burn the sacred incense during rituals, and probably placed in front of a building in full view of everyone, this work is exceptional because it still contains its different parts (support, lid, chimney, decoration). In most cases, only the upper part is present. Censers of this type, broken or dismantled, have been found in tombs or offering deposits and workshops for their manufacture have been discovered in Teotihuacan, notably near the Citadel.


The hourglass-like base supports a circular bowl with wide edges and a high lid, flanked by two handles, on which rests a long pipe allowing the smoke to escape. This is only visible at the back because it is hidden at the front by multiple decorative elements, called adornos and mantas, which are molded separately and then meticulously fixed to the central axis of the piece, either before firing with a ball of wet clay or after firing with a lime-based adhesive.

Date:  450 - 850 A.D.
Dimensions: 61.4 x 38 x 25.4 cm (24¹/₈ x 15 x 10 inches)
Categories: Sculpture