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Tripod ceremonial plate

Aztec/Mexica tripod ceremonial plate

Tripod ceremonial plate, Aztec/Mexica, c. 1530 CE, fired clay, diameter 23.5 cms., Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City. Provenance: Tlatelolco.

Following the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan in 1521, the local population congregated in Tlatelolco where, for some years, they continued to recognise rulers belonging to the old Aztec lineage. The ceremonial plate dates from the first years in this period of cultural transition and may be viewed as the swansong of past grandeur. It combines a shape presumably introduced by the Europeans - its undulating surface is alien to native ceramic traditions - with war symbolism derived from the Pre-Hispanic world. Two ferocious animals merge into one figure, forming a kind of heraldic shield in which the talons and wings of an eagle and the tail of a jaguar can be distinguished. The two heads, on the other hand, recall the double-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, ruled at the time by Charles I of Spain as Emperor Charles V. The plate’s three circular supports also bear eagles’ heads.

From Aztecs exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2002, p. 484.

Photo (of a replica) by Chris Tims/Mexicolore.

Could this plate have been inspired by Cuauhtémoc’s fate?