General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 29 Nov 2020/5 Flower
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Ancient Mexican ‘Spaceman’ or ‘Astronaut’ figure


What do you reckon? Astronaut? World War I pilot in another life? It’s those goggle eyes, isn’t it?! Well apparently goggles like the ones shown here were quite popular in the ‘Late Classic’ period (600-900 AD/CE) in ancient Mexico, not only along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico but also in the Maya region...

This clay figure, from El Zapotal, central Veracruz, is just 47 cms high, and is one of the highlights of the Xalapa Museum of Anthropology (Veracruz state). The artist showed great skill in giving the figure a highly natural look, and an intense expression.

His mastery of modelling and molding techniques is evident in the face, hands and feet. The headdress, held on by a double chin strap, the ornaments or protectors worn on arms or calves, as well as a sort of girdle of cords worn above the waist, which might remind us of ball players, as well as of Tlaloc (god of rain), all merit attention (From ‘Xalapa Museum of Anthropology - A Guided Tour’, text by Rubén Morante López, Xalapa, 2004).

Photo of INAH replica, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City, by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

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Mexicolore replies: You’re quite right, Ryan! In the words of Professor Susan Toby Evans, wearing goggles was ‘a Central Mexican fashion associated with the Storm God/Tlaloc, and shown, for example on the Fire Serpent masks adorning the Temple-Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent’ (at Teotihuacan). Dr. John Staller makes some interesting further connections with particular birds - see his article on Lightning -