Published On: Tue, Aug 18th, 2015

The “Brighter Side” of Aztec Deities at Templo Mayor Museum

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

But this month Mexico’s Templo Mayor museum in Downtown Mexico City, put on display 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.

Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated Press

Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated PressAn image of the Aztec god Xochipilli, center, is part of a display of items used as offerings to the god, at the Templo Mayor museum in Mexico City, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015.

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

“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.

Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated Press

Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated PressA 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, 2015.

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

Red was a colour 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.

Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated Press
A worker, standing in front of ongoing excavacations at the Templo Mayor archeological site, directs people into the adjoining museum, in central Mexico City, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015.


A man bends down to take a picture of a giant, symbolic sacrificial knife, part of a display of items offered to the Aztec god Xochipilli, at the Templo Mayor museum in Mexico City, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015.

Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated PressA man bends down to take a picture of a giant, symbolic sacrificial knife, part of a display of items offered to the Aztec god Xochipilli, at the Templo Mayor museum in Mexico City, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015.


The Associated Press | August 18, 2015 | 

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