General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 22 Nov 2017/7 Movement
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Greenstone beads

Aztec/Mexica greenstone beads

Mexica greenstone beads, c. 1469, avge. size 1.5 x 2.0 x 4.2 cm each, Museo del Templo Mayor, Mexico City.

Greenstone beads, like this group of fourteen, were known in Nahuatl by the word chalchihuitl, meaning ‘precious’. They are steeped in symbolism linked with fertility, water and blood, believed to be a liquid that renewed life. Although the genuine jade circulating in Mesoamerica in the Pre-Hispanic era came from the Motagua Valley, in today’s Republic of Guatemala, a wide range of other green metamorphic rocks [rocks that change in form] was used to make objects that also fulfilled these symbolic requirements.

Most of these beads were located in offerings 20 and 24 of the Templo Mayor.


From ‘Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler’, British Museum Catalogue, 2009, p. 216

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

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