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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:30

Video transcript

we're in the tempo my or museum the museum dedicated to the main temple of the Aztecs here in Mexico City and we're looking at an enormous stone monolith of a figure who features prominently in Astec mythology coryell Shaoqi did I say that right pretty close so this monolith was found actually at the base of that Huitzilopochtli side of the temple my are so wits lapolt Lee was the patron deity of the Aztecs who was associated with warfare and the Sun there were two temples on top of the platform one dedicated to the war God beats lapolt Lee and the other two to Allah and this was found on the Huitzilopochtli side it was found at the base of the stairs and this was clearly an important subject for the Aztec people because as they enlarged the temple they buried previous versions of the same subject and redid it on top in the same location so both the subject and the location went together there are seven major building phases of the templo mayor and archaeologists have found that with each phase the same subject of this decapitated dismembered naked woman coil Shaoqi was placed in the same location and repeated over and over when we look at her it's a little bit difficult to put together that she's dismembered but we can clearly see that she's got these scalloped shape where her neck is indicating that she's been decapitated and we see that same scalloping at her shoulders and at her hip joints this scalloping is the sense of torn flesh ripped flesh which is indicating that she's been dismembered and decapitated and if we look at the dismembered body parts you can even see bones protruding femurs arising out of the legs what happened to poor quail shopping so this is actually a really unusual representation because you don't often see people who are ritually dismembered decapitated and particularly not nude because nudity was problematic so when this monolith was discovered in 1978 by electrical workers digging near the main plaza here in Mexico City people were really excited because they were able to identify her base on a you key features not only that she's dismembered and decapitated but the bells on her cheeks are telling us who she is what her name is because coil Shaoqi means bells her cheeks I'm gonna refer to her as bells her cheeks from now on she's got a feathered headdress on she's got prominent ear spools she's highly decorated and yet here she is naked splayed on the ground dismembered and so what happens to coil shall key this myth that I mentioned this important Aztec myth actually relates to the birth of the patron God Huitzilopochtli and so what happens in the myth is that the mother of Huitzilopochtli kawatte leaked way or sneaky skirt was sweeping on top of snake mountain and a ball of feathers falls into her apron and she's miraculously impregnated and her daughter bells her cheeks or coil Shaoqi becomes enraged and rallies her 400 brothers to storm snake mountain and kill their mother snaky skirt or couette leek way but before that happens Huitzilopochtli this patron god of the aztecs springs fully armed to defend his mother from her death and he chops the head off his sister and throws her body off the mountain where it breaks into pieces and she lands at the base of the mountain we have that represented at the actual base of the temple which the Aztecs thought of as a kind of symbolic representation of the mountain from which bells her cheeks was thrown this was once painted with bright colors it would have been much easier to read and we would have seen it from a different orientation than the one we're looking at now this would have been horizontal at the base of the stairs and it would have given this impression of this pinwheel composition this chaotic movement but it would have been much easier to pick out the various motifs with colors the background would have been red to give the impression of a pool of blood and her body would have been painted in Aitkin yellow color one of the things that I can pick out even without that paint now is a skull that would have been at her back a snake belt around her waist I can pick out rolls of flesh and her breasts that hang down maybe indicating that she was a mother's older woman perhaps yeah the roles in her abdomen and the breasts are actually indications that she is a mother she has these wonderful monster face joints that you see on a lot of other deities we have a count that sacrifices were made at the temple and bodies were rolled from the top of the temple down on to this stone the Aztecs had a very active ritual calendar and there's one monthly festival the festival called Penh Quetzal Italy or the raising of the banners that was devoted to the reenactment of this myth of the events of snake Mountain and so during this particular festival war captives would be killed at the top of the Huitzilopochtli side of the temple and they would be rolled down the temple to reenact the killing of bells her cheeks or koyuki