Mex­i­can mu­seum puts on ex­hibit for ‘artis­tic’ Aztec god

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE -

In the pan­theon of Mexico’s pre-His­panic gods, most Aztec deities are de­picted as bru­tal, blood­thirsty be­ings only ap­peased by hu­man sac­ri­fices.

But Mexico’s Tem­plo Mayor mu­seum on Fri­day put on dis­play for the first time an ex­hi­bi­tion ded­i­cated to Xochip­illi, the Aztec god of singing, danc­ing and the morn­ing sun.

The Aztecs usu­ally sac­ri­ficed quails to Xochip­illi, rather than still-beat­ing hu­man hearts. And he was wor­shipped at vast po­etry and mu­sic fes­ti­vals rather than mar­tial dis­plays.

Mu­seum di­rec­tor Pa­tri­cia Ledesma said the dis­play is meant to show another side of deities wor­shipped by the Mex­ica peo­ple who in­hab­ited the Aztec em­pire.

“This is part of what we wanted to show, that the Mex­i­cas didn’t just do war­like or bloody things, but also artis­tic things,” Ledesma said at the open­ing of the ex­hibit of pieces un­earthed in 1978 at a small shrine on one side of the sprawl­ing Tem­plo Mayor com­plex in Mexico City.

The ex­hibit is un­usual in that it con­sists of minia­ture stone carv­ings of mu­si­cal in­stru­ments — rat­tles, drums, whis­tles and flutes — and for the red col­or­ing doused over many of the ob­jects.

Red was a color as­so­ci­ated with the first rays of morn­ing sun­light. The po­etry of songs prais­ing Xochip­illi, which were writ­ten down by chron­i­clers af­ter the 1521 Span­ish con­quest, also forms part of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

“We wanted to show a lesser­known facet of a peo­ple cat­e­go­rized as war­riors, that they could ex­press them­selves with ex­quis­ite artis­tic style,” Ledesma said.


(Top) A man pushes a woman in a wheel­chair past a wall of an­cient stone skulls, ex­ca­vated at Tem­plo Mayor, that rep­re­sent sac­ri­fi­cial vic­tims, at the en­trance to the Tem­plo Mayor mu­seum in cen­tral Mexico City, Fri­day, Aug. 7. (Right) A gi­ant sym­bolic sac­ri­fi­cial knife is part of a dis­play of items of­fered to the Aztec god Xochip­illi at Tem­plo Mayor mu­seum on Fri­day.


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