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Video transcript

we're in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City looking at an amazingly beautiful feathered headdress this is a replica of a feathered headdress that's currently in the Museum in Vienna sent to Europe by our nan Cortese the Spanish conquistador who defeated the Aztecs so Cortez comes in with his army of Spanish soldiers conquers the Aztec people and is overwhelmed by the beauty of much of what he sees especially these feathered objects and sends a lot of them back to Spain to Charles v I can see why he would send these objects back there's nothing like it in Spain that I can think of and even though this is a replica it give us a really good sense of what some of these feather objects would have looked like you have these stunning Quetzal tail feathers which only come from the male Quetzal and we see so many of them and usually the bird only has two three tail feathers so these come from a lot of different Casals a kind of bird that you find in Central America places like Costa Rica so what this is speaking to is the long distance trade that's happening as well as tribute items that are sent back to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan so yes Tech's have an empire with lot of cities that they've conquered and what they exact from those cities is luxury goods and that includes feathers that includes textiles cacao shells and they're all coming to the capital of the Empire which is actually here in what is present-day Mexico City but was then Tenochtitlan did I say that right almost 1000 to eat lamb so the feathers we have to imagine as part of an entire costume and in so much Aztec art we see not only the feather headdress but we see paper ornaments we see other kinds of elaborate aspects of costume that were part of rituals part of performances costume was incredibly important to the Aztecs as it was too many Mesoamerican cultures and what's unfortunate for us is we're seeing this here is a static item but imagine feathers with this beautiful iridescent shimmering in the light and moving with wind and being danced and able to transform the ruler wearing this into something else entirely if you see where you're supposed to place this on top of your head and then you see the extent to which the feathers radiate outwards it's almost like your identity becomes less important you're then what you're wearing you're completely subsumed by this costume and besides these gorgeous ket's all feathers what we have here are pure gold ornaments as well as other colors of feathers like a beautiful turquoise blue the people who made this lived in a special quarter of the Capitol they were called in nahuatl the language of the Aztecs Amon TECA feather workers and they were highly regarded and after the Spanish conquest when people like Hernan Cortes the Spanish conquistador encountered objects like this they were so impressed that this is actually a type of artistic production that doesn't cease with the conquest but what we do see is a shift in subject matter instead of saying making ritual headdresses like this we see objects that display Christian iconography very close to the feathered headdress here in the museum we see a replica of a chalice cover that is made of feathers and if we're looking at the subject matter it looks very Aztec we see water glyphs and what looks like a ray of fire and a strange kind of mouth or symbols that are very unfamiliar to us in other words and this is the beginning of a reinterpretation of Christian iconography using Aztec glyphs so we have a coming together of these two cultures a hybrid art form a chalice is something that we see in Christian ritual it's the vessel that contained the wine that becomes the blood of Christ during Mass and so this coming together of these two very different cultures but a set culture forced to become a Christian culture by the Spanish you