General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Mar 2019/13 Lizard
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The Aztec symbol for turquoise

What was the Aztec symbol for turquoise?

ORIGINAL QUESTION received from - and thanks to - Jose Ramon Morales: What is the symbol for turquoise? What did turquoise signify to the Mexica/Aztecs? And how do you say “turquoise flower” in Nahuatl for a girl’s name? (Answered by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

You can see the glyph for turquoise here. It’s as simple and beautifully symmetrical - in the shape of a ‘quincunx’ - as those of gold, movement etc. It has been called ‘the cross of Quetzalcóatl’.

The links below will reveal more about the value of turquoise to the Mexica (Aztecs). Turquoise was one of the most treasured gemstones of ancient Mesoamerica, and was valued in part for its rareness (it came largely from what it now the SW United States) and in part for its natural beauty and associations with life-giving water, with calendars and, surprisingly, with fire (perhaps thanks to the deep blue colour at the heart of intense flames).

’Turquoise Flower’ in Náhuatl would be xiuhxochitl.

Picture sources:-
• Left: scanned from Aztec Art by Esther Pasztory, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1983
• Right: photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

Learn a little more about the importance of the colour turquoise...

Turquoise Mosaics

The properties of conch shell in making turquoise mosaics

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Mexicolore replies: Thanks, Gael! Now fixed...