This particular sculpture is the most complete image of the Aztec god Xochipilli. It portrays him seated cross-legged upon a throne in a blissful state of intoxicated enrapture. The figure’s face has an uncanny resemblance to Iggy Pop or Keith Richards, while his pose suggests an old rocker performing yoga in his luxury mansion after a lifetime of hedonism.
It’s a fitting comparison, as Xochipilli (meaning “Prince of Flowers” in Nahuatl) was a god associated with pleasure, flowers, sexuality, and the arts of poetry, painting, writing, and song. As one of the fertility gods, he was a deity linked with agriculture and the cultivation of staple crops such as maize. Many archeologists believe he was first worshipped during the years of the Teotihuacan civilization, but was later adopted by the Aztecs.
To the Aztecs, the Flower Prince was seen as a god capable of lighthearted mischief and practical jokes. However, unlike his fellow gods, he wasn’t conceived of as being a malicious or vengeful deity, making him rather popular and beloved.
If you walk around the sculpture of him in Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology and examine it closer, you’ll notice it’s covered in intriguingly intricate images and patterns. These symbols represent hallucinogenic plants, showing the importance that these played in the cult of his worship.
One of the strongest associations with this god was with alcoholic drinks. A summer celebration called the Festival of Flowers took place every year in honor of Xochipilli and his twin sister Xochiquetzal. Dances were performed, poetry recited, and music played. During such festivities, worshippers drank Pulque and consumed mushrooms known as teonanácatl (“flesh of the gods”).
Know Before You Go
You can find the flower prince (unless he is on tour as part of an exhibition to other museums) in the Mexica room of the Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City. He is easy to find as he is located toward the center of the room, there are quite a few interesting artifacts related to his worship on show nearby. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Thursdays, when it is closed to the public. The entrance fee is 51 pesos, but if you are a Mexican national or a foreign resident of the country, you may enter for free on Sundays.