The theme of death became among the Aztecs, or Mexica people, a type of official "state image", with its main emblem, the skull, being depicted in many artistic media: codices, architectural decoration or, such as this case, stone sculpture.
The Aztecs founded a great empire, whose capital Mexico-Tenochtitlan was one of the most important cities of pre-Columbian America. Buried underneath the present Mexican capital, this pre-Hispanic city had a vast number of temples and sacred spaces. One of them, known as the "Temple of Skuls", displayed a great number of these elements as a type of architectural decoration, revealing the importance of death and the divinity associated with it within the Mexica state apparatus.
In this Mixtec sculpture, death takes on the form of a cadaverous image expressed through the skull and a skeletal or perhaps fleshless body. This sculpture may have been part of an architectural ensemble of great religious and ritual importance.