General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 1 Mar 2021/6 Grass
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Article suitable for older students

Highlighted ring of 20 Aztec day signs in the Sunstone

The metaphor of jewellery

Given their passion for using rich metaphors in their speech, it’s hardly surprising to find that the Mexica (Aztecs) used hand-crafted jewellery as a metaphor for something or someone highly prized. In the Florentine Codex (Book 4) they wrote of assembling the 20 day signs - such an iconic part of the Sunstone (right) - ‘as if they were a necklace, a bracelet. Here like a precious necklace or bracelet, with paintings, we have strung and threaded them together... and placed them in sequence.’ (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

‘We shall love him like a precious necklace or a precious stone bracelet’
‘We shall love him like a precious necklace or a precious stone bracelet’ (Click on image to enlarge)

The Aztecs described a newborn baby in similar terms, guests at the baby’s welcoming ceremony referring - in a speech to the mother - to the baby boy this way: ‘We shall love him like a precious necklace or a precious stone bracelet’. After petting and stroking the child to show their affection, they reminded the mother that she was now ‘separated from the jewelled necklace, the precious feather which was within thee.’

Picture sources:-
• Main picture: graphic by Phillip Mursell, based on line illustration of the Sunstone by - and courtesy of - Tomás Filsinger
• Composite: detail from mural by Regina Raúll, ‘Paisaje Mexica’ (1964), National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City (L); jade necklace, Templo Mayor Museum, Mexico City (photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore) (top R); image from Book 9, scanned from our own copy of the Club Internacional del Libro facsimile edition of the Florentine Codex, Madrid, 1994 (bottom R).

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Aug 16th 2016

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