General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Replica of the Aztec featherwork shield in the Castle of Chapultepec, Mexico

Featherwork shield

Shown (right) is a fine replica, pictured on display in the Museum of the Templo Mayor, Mexico City, of a famous Mexica (Aztec) featherwork shield, held in the Castle of Chapultepec, Mexico City. It’s one of only four such shields still in existence, and the only one preserved in Mexico. Recent research has revealed just how many feathers went into it... (Written by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

At a conference on Mesoamerican Manuscripts in Oxford in June 2016 Dr. Laura Filloy Nadal (senior conservator at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City) revealed that the original shield - now too fragile to be on public display - would have been made up of something like 42,000 individual feathers (from rim and hangings to centre)! These ranged from duck and thrush to macaw and blue cotinga feathers from the rainforest. This ceremonial shield or chimalli has a long and chequered history - it’s believed originally to have been a gift from Hernán Cortés to King Carlos V of Spain.

Learn more and see the original via the last link below.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jun 05th 2016


Vienna’s Mesoamerican Featherworks

Feathers from which birds went to make Aztec & Maya headdresses?

Learn more from two of our Panel of Experts

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: Apart from the Ahuizotl shield that you refer to (in Vienna - see our article on ‘Vienna’s Mesoamerican Featherworks’) - the other two are shields with step-fret designs, held in the Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart, Germany.