December 13th, 2008
Aztec Art and Aztec Jewelry Technology and Technique
“The Aztecs did not have a term for art as such. In fact they had no notion of art for art’s sake. Artists, though well regarded as a class were subordinate to the priest and were given little scope for creative imagination. Their skills were bent in glorifying the gods and the rulers and in communicating religious ideas by visual means to a largely illiterate populace. Thus as with all other aspects of Aztec culture, art was governed by religion, and indeed it played a very important part in religious life.”
Aztec art included metalwork, jewellery, textiles and featherwork, and paintings and sculptures found in the temples and palaces. However, not all such art work has survived; textiles and featherwork have naturally perished; the paintwork on the sculptures has deteriorated and precious and valuable art, such as the metalwork and jewellery has been either lost, raided, or stolen. Further,in their effort to obliterate Aztec religion, the Spanish also destroyed much Aztec Art.
However, while they greatly admired and appreciated art, jewellery and the craftsmanship involved in producing these artworks, in most cases it was not the Aztecs themselves who were responsible. The Aztecs employed foreign artisans; Mixtec craftsmen are supposedly responsible for the exquisite gold and lapidary work:
These god-given skills (supposedly taught to men by Quetzalcoatl), were thought to have been preserved by survivors of the Toltec culture, and in fact the term Tolteca referred collectively to goldsmiths, lapidaries and those skilled in featherwork. The skills of these craftsmen were largely exercised in the production of luxury items of jewellery and ornament for the upper classes, as well as in making objects to decorate statues in the temples. Gold and silver was used for jewellery and trinkets, and the magnificient feathers of tropical birds were used for making head-dresses, costumes and capes, and for decorating shields, helmets and so on, worn by those of high rank and used for ritual purposes. A wide range of articles, from ear-plugs to sculpture, was produced by the lapidaries working with precious gemstones.”
The most precious gemstone was jade, while green stones such as jadeite, turquoise and cornelian were also prized. Jade was known as chalchiuitl (Nahuatl for ‘precious stone’), and the importance and value of which is exemplified in the myth that the house of Quetzalcoatl was completely covered in jade.
“[T]he Ancient Mexicans considered it even more precious than gold, and Moctezuma’s words when making a presentation of jade to Cortes are very revealing:’I will give you some very valuable stones which you will send to him (Charles V, King of Spain) in my name; they are chalchiuitls and are not to be iven to any one else but to him, your great Prince. Each stone is worth two loads of gold.”
Further, the Spanish were able to record their impressions of aztec art and as such are beneficial in recreating and realising the skill involved in making such objects:
The lapidary is well-reared, well advised; a councelor, informed in his art; an abrader, a polisher; one who works with abrasive sand, rubs stones with fine cane and, makes them shine. He makes them shine.
The good lapidary is a creator of works of skill. He is adroit, a designer of works of skill, a gluer of mosiacs of stone. They are glued. He creates, he designs works of skill. He grinds down, he polishes, he applies abrasive sand to stones, cuts them into triangles, forms designs of them.
|El calendario Maya era el centro de la vida Maya y uno de los mas grandes logros culturales de la humanidad.||Autenticas Reproducciones en Joyería de los símbolos del Calendario Azteca.|