General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Sep 2017/8 Reed
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Tlaloc in the village of Coatlinchan

Tlaloc’s Great Journey

“Children keep sitting on my head” (to the tune of ‘Raindrops ...’). This is a rare historical photograph (click on it to enlarge) of the original colossal (23 feet high) stone statue to Tlaloc where it lay for centuries in a dry stream bed in the village of Coatlinchan, 30 miles from Mexico City - before it was transported on the back of a giant purpose-built trailer to its present location, standing proudly at the entrance to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Tlaloc on his purpose-built trailer
Tlaloc on his purpose-built trailer

“At 6.00am on April 16th, 1964, the journey of the god began. The people of Coatlinchan watched this national treasure leave its centuries old home. In return, the village requested of the government a road, a school, a medical centre and electricity, all of which have since been received.

Tlaloc arrived in the Main Square of Mexico City by night
Tlaloc arrived in the Main Square of Mexico City by night

“It was night when Tlaloc arrived in Mexico City; yet 25,000 people awaited him in the Zócalo. The city was prepared as if for a fiesta; lights were on everywhere, traffic was stopped and the streets were thronged. Ironically, the arrival of the rain god was greeted by the heaviest storm ever recorded for this ordinarily dry season ...” (Mexico: The National Museum of Anthropology - Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, 1968).

Tlaloc stands proudly outside the National Museum of Anthropology
Tlaloc stands proudly outside the National Museum of Anthropology

As a teenager at the time, Graciela remembers the scene vividly! Hailed then as perhaps the most advanced museum in the world, the Anthropology Museum was opened 5 months later on September 17th 1964.

Tlaloc in his final resting place in Mexico City
Tlaloc in his final resting place in Mexico City

The photo at the top was taken between 1935 and 1938 by Rodney Gallop and shows his two sons Nigel and Christopher and their pet alsation Micky atop Tlaloc. We recently another family anecdote from a US History Professor recalling a similar tale - see below...

Weighing 168 tons it’s reckoned to be the largest existing monolith in the Americas, though it was never finished by its stone carvers dating back to around the 5th century CE.

Tlaloc as seen in the Codex Borbonicus
Tlaloc as seen in the Codex Borbonicus

Tlaloc can be seen here shaking an ayauhchicahuaztli (‘stick for strengthening the mist’ in Náhuatl - ie a rainstick) at the clouds from his temple - from the Codex Borbonicus.

Picture sources:-
• Main picture: photo by Rodney Gallop, courtesy Nigel Gallop
• Press photos: can’t remember source!!
• Colour photos by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore
• Image from the Codex Borbonicus (original in the Bibliotheque de l’Assembée Nationale, Paris); scanned with permission from our own copy of the ADEVA facsimile edition, Graz, Austria, 1974.

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Mexicolore replies: Many thanks, Gregory, for this lovely anecdote.
Mexicolore replies: Thank you very much for sharing these memories with us, Rosa. It’s strange that you should write this recently: just a few weeks ago, very sadly, Nigel Gallop - one of the two boys in the top photo! - died here in London. He was a good friend and inspirational person. We attended his memorial service on September 18th: it was deeply moving. He lent us the photo, from his father Rodney Gallop’s archive.