Flores

Flores, Peten, Guatemala, 26 August 2016

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha

Towel arrangement on our bed.

On our first night in Guatemala we were staying in the old part of the city of Peten, an island.  This was originally a Mayan city called Nojpetén and it held out against the Spanish for 176 years, protected by the jungle.  Hernán Cortés conquered Tenochtitlan in 1521 but Nojpetén did not fall until 1697.

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha

A mainland part of the city.

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha

On the streets of Flores during the day.

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha

Looking across to a small island with a museum..

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha

Flores is on Lago Chchén Itzá.  We drove along the far side of the lake en route to our accomodation near the ancient Mayan city of Yaxha.

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Flores, Guatemala, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Toucan, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Yaxha

Sunset at Laguna Yaxha.

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Museo del Templo Mayor

Mexico City, Mexico, 24 August 2016

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Wall of skulls.

In the previous post, we visited the remains of the Templo Mayor, the main temple of Tenochtitlan.  In this post we see some of the objects that archaeologists discovered during their excavations.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

I didn’t photograph the label for this one but I recall that thios recreates these objects as they were found.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Relief of Tlaltecuhtli.

This relief represents Earth god, Tlaltecuhtli, in its feminine version. The goddess has her back towards the front, with her head turned over and upside down, and she is in the natural squatting childbirth position. She has curly hair on her head, lipless mouth and a skull tied to her waist; in the joints (elbows and knees) she has faces shaped as claws, similar to the one on the knife coming out of her mouth.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Tlaloc Brazier.

This brazier represents God Tialoc with tears coming out of his eyes, showing the symbolic relationship of tears with rain. It is a faithful Aztec copy of braziers produced four centuries before by the Toltecs. The Aztecs frequently visited the ruins of Tula, abandoned around 1150 AD, to extract burials, offerings, sculptures and other traces of the religious buildings considered to be magic, since they were the work of the magnificent people of Quetzalcoatl.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Olmec Mask.

This piece shows the typical Olmec features and two perforations on the back side which probably were used to hang it up.  Its presence in the Templo Mayor shows the veneration which the Aztecs had for antiques, since the Olmec tradition flourished in Mesoamerica between 1200 BC and 400 BC.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Pot with an image.

This is an imitation of the plumbate ceramic of the Soconusco region, shared nowadays by the Mexican state of Chiapas and the Republic of Guatemala.  The face captured on the pot corresponds to an elderly person and possibly represents the god of fire, Xiuhtecuhtli.  The Aztecs may have taken it from Teotihuacan, a sacred city for them, where similar objects have been found.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Jade mask.  No label but I wnder whether it’s Mayan.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Eagle Warrior.

Natural sized ceramic sculpture representing an Eagle Warrior.  It retains remains of the stucco that covered it, simulating feathers of the authentic suits. The Eagle Warriors and the Jaguar Warriors were the two most important sections within the Aztec army.  The Eagles were associated with the Sun and the Jaguars with the Earth and night.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Mictlantecuhtli, God of Death.

Ceramic sculpture representing Mictläntecuhtli, God of Death, conceived by the Aztecs as a half-gaunt being in a position of attack, with claws and curly hair, probably placed using the holes he has in his head. The liver hangs under his
thorax, because according to Aztec beliefs, this internal organ was closely related with Mictlan or the Underworld, place where this deity resided.  One of a pair from the reign of Montezuma I (1440-1469 A.D.).  The Aztecs used to offer blood to them.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

This is not a small piece in a display cabinet, this is massive, covering the central area of the ground floor, taken looking down from the second floor (third floor for Americans).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Tlaloc Pot’

Ceramic pot modeled with a high relief figurehead of Tialoc’s face, the god of rain. The Aztecs conceived it formed by two serpents intertwined at the nose and joining their heads face to face at the mouth. in this case, such serpents can be seen through the bands with vertical lines and alternate circles located over the eyebrows, eyes, nose, and around the mouth. It belongs to Stage IV (1440-1469 A.D.).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Stage II Chacmool.

Replica of the original chac mool located in front of Tlaloc’s temple corresponding to Stage II of the Templo Mayor (1375- 1427 A.D). Most of its attributes were modeled in stucco or outlined with black, white, blue, red and ocher paint; in addition, a mass of tar was adhered to its face simulating a rough nose. The same attires and insignias distinguishing this sculpture are the ones the god of rain has in the native pictographs in the Central region of Mexico.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Puma.

The puma (puma concolor) is one of the big cats with wide distribution in what is currently the Mexican Republic. In the past it was even in the temperate forests surrounding the basin of Mexico.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Chicomecoatl.

This ceramic vase shows an image of Chicomecoatl, the goddess of ripe com and of maintenance in general, and is decorated in a Cholula polychrome style.  She is characteristically depicted as attired in red with corn cobs in her hands.  The cover of the vase shows Tlaloc, god of the rain, pouring water.

The vase contained numerous stone objects: over three thousand beads, figurines and a mask covering them, which presumably surround the vase. It  dates to 1469-1481 AD.

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Tenochtitlan Today

Mexico City, Mexico, 24 August 2016

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

A model of the Plaza Mayor and Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan.  Behind it is an idealised painting by Luis Covarrubias (20th Century) of the cities of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco on the island on Lake Texcoco.  The model is more realistic than the painting.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Here we see a close-up of Templo Mayor.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

The temple was rebuilt seven times.  On each occasion, the old temple was completely covered in a casing of mud and stone, and a new temple constructed around it.  On five other occasions, only the main facade was expanded.  When each new building was opened, war captives from kingdoms conquered specifically the the event were sacrificed.

Also, the city suffered ongoing flood and earthquakes and the island subsoil was constantly settling, forcing them to raise the level of their pavements.

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Some of it is still there.  This massive serpent must be as shown at bottom right in the previous image of the model.  it dates to the reign of Axayacatl (1469-1481)..

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Likewise, this is probably the serpent head from the lower middle of the model.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

After the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521, two conquistadors, the Avila brothers, built houses on the ruins.  However, in 1566. they were arrested for conspiring against the Spanish Crown, along with Martin Cortes, the half-indigenous son of Hernan Cortes.  The Avila brothers were executed but Cortes was merely exiled to Spain.  The property remained abandoned for many years and was used as a rubbish dump.  Much later, it was granted to a University but construction never acrually happened.  Consequently, more survives than one might think, especially in the middle of a huge city.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

This chac mool, still showing some of its original colouring, lay outside the entrace to a shrine to Tlaloc, the rain god.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

The next few images data to around 1500AD.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Here you can see the different levels of pavement built up to counteract the sinking of the city.  This is of course a critical problem today, with the city subsiding 10 metres in the last century.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Banquette (bench) in the House of the Eagles.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Altar Tzompantli, alluding to Mictlampa, the region of the dead.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Somewhat like Venice, building foundations were made by driving stakes into the lake bed or the surface of the island, secured by stone and mud.

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The Cathedral is in the distance.

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Central Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico, 22-24 August 2016

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel

We were staying in the middle of Mexico City at the Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico (Grand Hotel of Mexico City) which is at the Zocalo, the central square of the city.  I was impressed by the French art nouveau styling and the stained glass canopy, created in 1908.

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel

On our first night it was raining and this was a view from the end of a corridor near our room.

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The Catedral Metropolitana, at the north end of the square, through the rain.

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After visiting Frida Kahlo’s house, we returned to the hotel and then set off for the Museo de Templo Mayor.  On the way, we walked across to the eastern side of the Zocalo and visited the Palacio Nacional.  It was originally the Palace of Montezuma II and Cortes rebuilt it as a fortress.  It was rebuilt again after it was burned in the Hunger Riots of 1692.  The Aztecs had a carefully planned system to divert spring water so that Tenochtitlan was surrounded by fresh spring water rather than turgid lake water.  That also made surrounding agricultural land highly productive.  The Spanish understood none of this and destroyed the canal system, undermining the local environment and ultimately leading to the hunger riots.

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel

This is Diego Rivera’s grand mural of Mexican history around the main staircase. You may need to click on it to see the detail, which includes representations of Frida Kahlo, Karl Marx and John D Rockefeller in the left panel.

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel

More murals by Diego Rivera, showing the pre-Columbian era and post-conquest.

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This series of murals was never finished.

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An internal courtyard showing the scale of the building.

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel

From the Palacio Nacional we walked through the colourful streets of Mexico City towards the Museo de Templo Mayor.

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel

(The remains of the main temple of Tenochtitlan (the Templo Mayor) and our visit to the Museo de Templo Mayor follow in the next two posts).

 

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Architecture, Art, Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Palacio Nacional, Photography, Street photography, Travel

In the morning of our last day in Mexico City, we had time to visit the Museo Nacional de Arte.  You look up at this in the main hall.

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Looking up in one of the staircases, you see this much older spectacle.

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Frida Kahlo’s House

Mexico City, Mexico, 24 August 2016

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Architecture, Art, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Travel

Frida Kahlo (self-portrait).

I presume that everyone reading this knows who Frida Kahlo was, but if you don’t or would like more information, have a look at this brief online biography.

These images are from a visit to the house that Frida grew up in, lived in for many years with Diego Rivera and died in.  It is now a museum.

..Architecture, Art, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Travel

Puppet theatre near the front door.

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Painting by Diego Rivera.

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Architecture, Art, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, History, Mexico, Mexico City, Photography, Travel

Frida Kahlo.

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Bedroom of Leon Trotsky during his exile in Mexico and of Diego Rivera towards the end of his life in the house.

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Dining room.

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Same view, but a wider angle with a fisheye lens.

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Staircase to the upper floor and recess with family portraits.

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Frida’s Studio.

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Frida’s bedroom.

An image I saw showed butterflies on the wall.  Perhaps they were removed because they were not there while she was alive.

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Toys of Frida’s infancy.

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Courtyard garden.

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Extension designed by Diego Rivera.

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Pyramid displaying pre-Hispanic pieces.

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Dresses that she wore.

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Jewellery and clothing items.

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Dresses.

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Undergarments.

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Apparatus to hold her together.  She had polio at 6, suffered lielong severe back injury from a traffic accident when she was 18 and had a leg amputated due to gangrene a year before she died.

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Poem by Patti Smith.  Perhaps difficult for some to read so it goes:

Naguchi’s Butterflies

I can not walk

I can not see

further than what

is in front of me

I lay on my back

yet I do not cry

transported in space

by the butterflies.

 

Above my bed

Another sky

with the wings you sent

Within my sight

all pain dissolves

In another light

Transported thru

Time

by the butterfly

 

This little song came to me

like a little gift as I stood

beside the bed of Frida.

I give it to you

with much love,

Patti Smith

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Meso-American assemblage in the courtyard.

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Toltecs, Mayans and Aztecs

Mexico City, Mexico, 23 August 2016

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Part 2 of a visit to Museo Nacionale de Antropologia ..

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Mayans and Toltecs

The classic Maya period was 250 to 950AD and they had a remarkable density of settlement, mainly in the jungles of Guatemala and Belize. There was a collapse of those settlements and from 950 to 1520AD, the Mayans survived in the Yucatan, drawing their water from cenotes.

The Toltecs were originally “barbarians” from the north and rose after the fall of Teotihuacan, 900-1200AD, absorbing some of the survivors after the fall of Teotihuacan. Perhaps they were also responsible for the fall of Teotihuacan because no-one seems to know who caused that. After 1000AD there was also an invasion of the Mayans in the Yucatan, particularly Chichen Itza, so that the Yucatan became a Maya/ Toltec civiisation.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Lintel 26 of Yaxchilan, Chiapas.

Pert of a series including lintels 23,24 and 25 of the same building. They include events from the life of the ruler Its Balam (II), “Wise Jaguar” of Yaxchilan, over 46 years of Government. He was enthroned on October 20 of 681 A.D. and the lintel dates from February 8 724 AD, Late Classic era, Mayan Date 9.14.12.6.12, 2.

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Stela 51 from Calakmol, Campeche

A ruler carrying a spear and warrior bag is standing on a captive.  The stela also bears the signature of Yu Xul, sculptor-polisher. It states that the ruler and the sculptor held a ritual to invoke the snake of the apparitions in the mountains. The text refers to the pyramid where the stela was found, representing the mountain, meeting place with the ancestors.  29 July 731AD, Late Classic period (600-800AD).

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Stela 18 of Yaxchilan, Chiapas.

This Stela recalls the capture of Lord of Lacanjá by Lord of Yaxchilan. It speaks also of rituals and sacrifices in honor of deities and ancestors. 23 July 677AD, Late Classic period (600-800AD).
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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Ballcourt marker.

This disk shows the figure of a ball player, hip-kicking a large ball.  He has a wide belt and protectors on the elbow and knee. There are glyphs on the sides and on the ball, and in the outer band. a band of hieroglyphic that reads the date 9.7.17.12.14.11, 11 1×7 Zotz.  591 AD, Early Classic period.

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel .

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Stuccoed Frieze (fragment).

This frieze was detached from the façade of a temple by looters. The fragment shows a young ruler flanked by old deities. This frieze appears to lack the face of another character and another deity, representing the change of power between two rulers. represented alternating between three gods. Each god sat above a temple door.  Placeres, Campeche, Early Classical period (250-600AD).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Chac-mool.

This character, whose name means Red Claw, was a Messenger or an intermediary between man and the gods, responsible for carrying to the deities offerings placed in the abdominal cavity. As well as the Atlanteans, this figure shows a combination of traits of several Mesoamerican cultures.  Chichen Itza, Yucatan, early PostClassical period (900-1250AD).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Pakal the Great, as he was in his tomb at Palenque (see also next two images and museum comments).

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Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

The Tomb of Pakal the Great

The funerary crypt of Pakal was deep within the pyramid of the Temple of the Inscriptions. This reproduction shows details visible when it was first discovered in 1952 by Dr. Alberto Ruz, but lost today due to the perspiration and body heat of millions of visitors.  Access to the original monument is now restricted.

The sarcophagus, which rests on four supports, and the lid were carved from an enormous block of stone.  Due to its weight and dimensions, it must have been made before the pyramid was built. The relief on the lid shows Pakal as a vigorous adult, falling into the jaws of the White Bone Serpent, one of the entrances to the underworld. Behind him, a cross represents the sacred ceiba tree at the center of the world, with its roots in the underworld. Itzam Yeh, the celestial bird who accompanies the god Itzamnaaj, perches on the treetop, which reaches the celestial levels.

The inscription on the edge of the lid records the death date of eight generations of rulers preceding Pakal, from AD 514 to 643, the year in which his father dies. The date in front refers to his birth in 603 and his death in 683, and says that he was the son of Na Sak K’ uk’ (Lady White Quetzal) and K’uni Mo Hix (Precious Macaw Jaguar). The former rulers portrayed on the sides of the sarcophogus emerge from cracks in the earth together with a tree, indicating their transformation from venerated ancestors and the ongoing regeneration of life.

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The stucco figures on the wall bear staffs with the image of K’ aviil, patron deity of royalty and rulers. which suggests that they might represent the nine Palenque rulers prior to Pakul. However. they could also he the Nine Lords of the Night. deities reigning over the underworld in the Popul Vuh, or warriors protecting the deceased.

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Aztecs

Archaeology, Aztecs, Mayans, Mexico, Mexico City, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Toltecs, Travel

Ballcourt rings.  A bit like basketball hoops perhaps.

The rise of the Aztecs followed the decline of the Toltec capital of Tula and featured militarism in all aspects of life.  The capital city, Tenochtitlan, was founded in 1325 and it came to dominate surrounding peoples.  The main gods were the patrons of military conquests; the most important ceremonies revolved around the capture of prisoners, and human sacrifice took on a central role in daily rituals.

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The Tlatoani, or Supreme ruler, wore a large plume of quetzal feathers on special occasions in honour of the god Quetzocoatl. This is a replica made in 1940 with pure gold inlays and green feathers of the quetzal and turquoise blue feathers of the blue grosbeak.
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Pages from a codex with Spanish annotation – so, post-conquest.

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Xolotl

Xolotl is the twin of Quetzalcoatl , a god in the shape of a dog (and they didn’t even have the letters to reverse).  In order to create man, Quetzalcoatl traveled to the underworld to search for the bones of the ancestral generations, taking the form of a dog.  Xolotl is the god of monstrosities and the patron of twins and animals that undergo transformations such as tadpoles that turn into frogs.

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La Piedra del Sol (Sun Stone or Aztec Calendar)

The Prehispanic peoples saw the light and warmth of the Sun as equal to Life itself. Therefore their creation myths saw in its presence and absence, the precarious nature of Life and the need for men to help maintain the Sun as the supreme deity.

The creation myth explains how gods created suns to rule the different stages of life. The first Sun was earthly, its patron Tezcatlipoca, and its signs the jaguar and darkness. The second Sun was created by Quetzalcoatl, the wind being its nature. Tlaloc made the third Sun, as a rain of fire, and Chalchiuhtlicue made the fourth sun, the water Sun. All of them were created and destroyed by the essence of their nature.

The gods Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc Chalchiuhtlicue  created  earth, wind, fire and water.  Then it was the turn of Nanahuatzin and Tecucistecatl, who became the Sun and Moon respectively. For this to happen, both gods had to set themselves on fire. That is why when man was created, he had to repay the gods with his own blood and that of his enemies.

(After the conquest , it thus aided the spread of Christianity that the new god had sacrificed himself for mankind, instead of a requirement the other way around.)

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A small modelled Aztec marketplace…

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(I don’t have any notes for the last three images).

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Olmecs, Gulf Coast, Zapotecs, Mixtecs and Teotihuacan

Mexico City, Mexico, 23 August 2016

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This is the first post of a journey to Cuba and the Caribbean with myself and my partner Jools from two years ago. You can see a map of the journey and links to posts here.  At this stage I only have permanent links to my immediately preceding visit to the Flinders Ranges and temporary links for other destinations.

Our first stop was Mexico City for a couple of days. The first place we visited was Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, which features a magnificent assemblage of objects from Mexico’s ancient civilisations.  I have divided this into two posts. The next post covers Toltecs, Mayans and Aztecs.

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Olmecs

The Olmecs were the first civilisarion to appear in Mexico from about 1800BC in a region on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to the west of the Yucatan Peninsula.  They were a significant influence on all succeeding cultures, including the cult of sacrifice and the ball court.  The Olmec period was from 1800BC to 250AD.  Later Gulf Coast cultures included El Taijin from 250 to 900AD and the Huaxtecs from 900 to 1300AD.

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs

Massive stone heads were a dramatic part of Olmec culture.  This one, largest of a group of several found at San Lorenzo, Veracruz, weighs 20 tonnes.

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This one is in somewhat better condition; an idealised depiction of a political or spiritual leader.

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I don’t have a label for this one but I presume it’s Huaxtec.

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs

Huilocintla’s tombstone.

This is Huaxtec.  It depicts a ceremony of self-sacrifice associated with the god Quetzacoatl-Ehecalt (wind god).  Quetzacoatl, a god also for the Aztecs, originated from the Olmecs.

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Huaxtec woman.

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Huaxtec lizard.

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Zapotecs and Mixtecs

The Zapotecs were another early culture, spanning from 600BC to 800AD.  They settled in mountain valleys near the Pacific coast.  They were overwhelmed by a force from Teotihuacan with superior obsidian (volcanic glass) spearheads and a different local group, the Mixtecs, took over from 800 to 1529AD.

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A mask representing the “bat god” found with the remains of five human sacrifices near the base of the eastern temple of building “H” in Monte Alban, the Zapotec capital  It is made of twenty-five pieces of jade, with the eyes and teeth made from seashells.

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Zapotec funeral urn.

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Monte Alban, the Zapotec capital.

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Deity, priest or ruler with jaguar’s head headdress.  The crossed arms show influence from South America and there are pictograms in the lower part.  Pacific coast, late postclassical (800-1521AD).

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Mixtec codex.

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These are both preHispanic codices, painted on deerskin, folded as an accordion and bound by wooden coverings. They relate historical, genealogical and mythical events and include pictures and writing.  Not many survived the Spanish conquest.  You read them from the bottom right in alternating directions, as indicated here by the red lines with loops.

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Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan was a powerful culture from 200 to 900AD, forming extensive trade links and also conquests from the Zapotecs to the western Maya.  They left behind the remains of a huge city near Mexico City (Tenochtitlan) that mystified the Aztecs when they arrived.

 

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A Terracotta censer from about 600AD, probably linked to the cult of the god Tlaloc (god of rain, lightning and thunder, a fertility god and also a wrathful deity, responsible for both floods and droughts).

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The rear of a stela that shows the links with the Maya.  The glyphs commemorate the Government of “Stormy Sky ” and the exploits of “Curly Nose”and his relative “Steaming Frog”.

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The front shows K’awil Chann, “Stormy Sky”, seventh ruler of Tikal. Over his head his father, Huh Chaan Mah K’ina, “Curly nose”, legitimates his right as Lord of Tikal. Early Classic period, 250-650AD.

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs .

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs .

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Archaeology, Gulf Coast, Mexico, Mexico City, Mixtecs, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Olmec, Olmecs, Photography, Teotihuacan, Travel, Zapotecs .

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