Meet Xiuhcoatl the fire-serpent diety of the ancient Aztec indians of Mexico. Each bookend, including the base, is a replica of a stone sculpture about three feet high, held by the British Museum. Xiuhcoatl is interpreted as the embodiment of the dry season and was the weapon of the sun. The royal diadem of the Aztec emperors apparently represented the tail of the the Fire Serpent. Xiuhcoatl was associated via its tail sign with turquoise, grass and the solar year, all three associated with fire and solar heat.
Each bookend is 7 1/2″ high, electroformed bronze and unmarked except for the artist’s name, T. Thorpe or J. Thorpe. We could find no listings for sculptors that would fit the name and time frame. There are a couple of possible painters who could have drawn the piece, one is American journalist, artist, and humorist, Thomas Bangs Thorpe (sometimes Thorp) who covered the Mexican War (1846 – 1848) and painted scenes of Mexican antiquities. There are a John and a Thomas Thorpe, listed English painters, who also fit the time period.
Mexican antiquities excite our imagination and remind us of trips to Teotihuacan and Templo Mayor. We were pleased to acquire these unusual bookends on eBay at the end of 2012.