Here in Los Angeles the influence of Mexican culture is part of our everyday experience. The new exhibit at LACMA gives us a chance to see the origins of a culture that is part of our own.
Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico is the first large scale exhibition that explores the ancient kingdoms of southern Mexico – known today as Oaxaca, Puebla and Tlaxcala. This exciting exhibition features more than 200 objects spanning from the 10th century to 1580.
The legends of Quetzalcoatl – the human incarnation of the Plumed Serpent – provides key insights into the complex, and quite sophisticated, societies of Ancient Mexico. The exhibition follows the deity’s journey through southern Mexico, the historical trajectory of his life and his role as the founder and benefactor of the Nahua, Mixtec and Zapotec. Not only did these kingdoms resist both Aztec and Spanish domination, they also developed a highly sophisticated visual language and remained the dominant cultural and economic force throughout Southern Mexico.
The exhibition is stunning and includes delicately painted deerskin codices depicting birth and marriage, exquisite gold necklaces and earrings, and turquoise mosaics from Mexico, Europe and the United States. One of the highlights for me was the Skull with Turquoise Mosaic – originally from Oaxaca or Puebla and part of LACMA’s permanent collection.
Children of the Plumed Serpent is chronologically divided into five themes – The World of Tula and Chichen Itza; The New Tollan: The Emergence of Cholula and the Birth of the International Style; Feasting, Divination, and Heroic History; Avenues of Trade and the Spread of the International Style; and The Aztec Conquest and the Spanish Incursion. Curated by Victoria Lyell, John Pohl and the late Virginia Fields, the exhibition is on view from April 1 to July 1, 2012.