General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Greenstone heart

Aztec greenstone heart sculpture

Mexica/Aztec greensone heart, diorite, 24.5 cms wide, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

According to pre-Hispanic Mexican cosmology, the heart is a vital organ containing the energy required to feed the gods, particularly those associated with the sun. The foundation myth of Tenochtitlan regards the heart of Copal, one of the enemies of the original Mexica migrants, as the seed that gave rise to the nopal cactus on which an eagle is perched, fulfilling Huitzilopochtli’s prophecy by marking the site destined to be the capital of the Mexica empire.

This sculpture combines both naturalistic and symbolic images of the heart. The cross-section of the veins and arteries that connect the organ to the body are shown as they would have appeared following a human sacrifice...

Adapted from ‘Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler’, British Museum Catalogue, 2009, p. 43

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

‘The Heart’ exhibition