Mexica monolith Tlaltecuhtli (Earth goddess) could be exhibited for the first time in the occasion of the exhibition “Moctezuma II”, which arrives to Mexico after its successful presentation at British Museum in London.
Exhibition of the piece during the second half of 2010 depends on the design of a support that bears a piece of such weight and dimensions, holding the 4 fragments that integrate it. Availability of technology that allows transportation to Templo Mayor Museum is also a factor to include the monument in the exhibition dedicated to the last tlatoani of Tenochtitlan.
Organized by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Moctezuma II will be displayed in Mexico after its exhibition in the British Museum of London, where nearly 210,000 visitors enjoyed it. Pieces rescued at Urban Archaeology Program (PAU) excavations near Templo Mayor will be included too.
Discovered in October 2006 in Ajaracas plot, near Templo Mayor, the sculptural piece dated nearly 1502 is the only Mexica monolith that conserves its original color. For this reason it is considered the greatest Mexica art discovery.
“Tlaltecuhtli reveals, with its measures (419 by 362 centimeters) and 12 tons weight, the sculptural evolution of Mexicas”, declared Maria Barajas, one of the restorers in charge of the piece during her intervention at the conference series taking place every February 2010 Saturday to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of Coyolxauhqui discovery.
During the conference presented at Templo Mayor Museum, the INAH specialist declared that its polychromy accounts for the plastic evolution achieved by Mexicas in early 16th century.
“The monumental quality of the relief, as well as the employment of a greater gamut of color, particularly red and burgundy, makes reference to the peak of this culture during the end of Ahuizotl and the beginning of Moctezuma governments”.
The ochre full-bodied figure in a reddish background represents a deity linked to earth. The goddess´ curly hair has a burgundy hue, which was a symbol of beauty as well as of the night and the underworld, commented Barajas.
“Her deep eyes have a half-moon shape; the nose is wide and the cheeks outstand due to the red relief with a blue center. The mouth shows a blood spurt that comes from the abdomen.
“The figure has her bended arms pointing upwards, to symbolize the nature of an earth goddess; all creatures come back to her and she devours everything”.
The figure is in squatting position; she wears a short skirt decorated with white dots outlined in black and crossbones motives. The specialist mentioned the monolith was found in 4 fragments and presents a hollow in the center.
Maria Barajas explained that an interdisciplinary team of experts coordinated by INAH have carried out conservation tasks on the relief as well as on the original colors of the monolith using state-of-the-art technology.
“Humidity and temperature conditions were controlled to retire sediments and saline layers from the stone afterwards. A meticulous intervention on fissures and cracks took place as well.
“After integral cleaning, the process to integrate loose fragments, restore eroded relief and fixing pigments followed”, she concluded.