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Aztec stone dog sculpture

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Listen to a classic: chapter 4 of Soustelle’s ‘Daily Life of the Aztecs...’

Professor Jennifer Mathews

How did they carry the heavy stones to make their temples? asked Takeley Primary School. Read what Professor Jennifer Mathews had to say.

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Presione para ir a la versión en español Article suitable for older students

Tezcatlipoca, adapted from Codex Borgia

Tezcatlipoca Symposium

For the first time ever, a major international symposium on the great creator god Tezcatlipoca took place at Birkbeck College, London on Saturday November 26th. 2005. (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Funerary urn with image of Tezcatlipoca, Templo Mayor Museum, found near Toluca
Funerary urn with image of Tezcatlipoca, Templo Mayor Museum, found near Toluca (Click on image to enlarge)

Guest speakers included Henry B. Nicholson and Cecelia Klein (University of California, Los Angeles), Eduardo Matos Moctezuma (Instituto Nacional de Antropolgía e Historia, Mexico), Guilheim Olivier (Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, UNAM, Mexico), Emily Umberger (Arizona State University), Elizabeth Baquedano (Birkbeck College, University of London), Colin McEwan, Caroline Cartwright, Andrew Middleton, Rebecca Stacey (British Museum), Juan José Batalla (Universidad Complutense, Madrid), and Susan Milbrath (Florida Museum of Natural History).

Professor Henry Nicholson
Professor Henry Nicholson (Click on image to enlarge)

The symposium opened with a presentation by the ‘grandfather’ of Aztec research, Professor Henry B. Nicholson, setting the whole event in the broad context of our knowledge of Aztec culture (as he pointed out, ‘Aztecs’ is a very inadequate term for the style of the late post-Classic period: the Aztecs themselves called themselves the ‘Tenochca-Tlatelolca-Colhua-Mexica’, or just ‘Mexica’ for short!). Professor Nicholson reminded the audience of just some of the key features of Tezcatlipoca: omnipotent, virile, art sorcerer, darkness, jaguar, ‘were-animal’ par excellence, total power, Jupiter, blended with Ometeotl in the supreme heaven, ‘every creature was powerless before him...’

Ezpitzal symbol
Ezpitzal symbol

We will be drawing on some of the many ‘pearls of wisdom’ (the Aztecs would have called them ‘jades’) that were showered by the experts onto all those present at the symposium well into the future. In the meantime, we point out two roads leading to exciting new discoveries: Professor Juan José Batalla’s paper on the ‘ezpitzal’ symbol associated with Tezcatlipoca (follow link below)...

Skull mask in the Mexican Gallery, British Museum
Skull mask in the Mexican Gallery, British Museum

... and the work pioneered by experts at the British Museum on the construction of the famous Tezcatlipoca turquoise skull mask: the original skull belonged to a man of some 30 years of age. One of 9 turquoise mosaic pieces in the Museum, it remains a rare example of an original Aztec skull mask (more info from the BM link below...)

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Nov 29th 2005

Tezcatlipoca - a new clue uncovered

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Mexicolore replies: Thanks, Thierry, for flagging this up. Yes, Elizabeth’s book is highly recommended, and we have a lovely copy that she kindly signed for us (she’s on our Panel of Experts)!