Murals of the City of the (Un)Known
This whole paper started with an amazing trip to the Denver Art Museum. The Teotihuacan section immediately caught my attention. This is where I discovered the “Mural of Xochipilla”. Had I known in the beginning how mysterious this piece of art was I would have moved on to another topic for this research paper. Many hours were spent trying to find information on the “Mural of Xochipilla” which yielded no information at all. Not even the museum could reveal anything about the mural except that they had purchased the mural in 1967. While doing the research I was inspired by Teotihuacan’s mysterious culture, which kept me looking for more information. Al though there was no information on the “Mural of Xochipilla”, there seemed to be overwhelming information on the Culture of Teotihuacan. None of Teotihuacan’s language has been translated leaving many speculations as to whom and how their culture and city came about. Just as mysteriously as the city was originated it vanished in the same mysterious manner.
There is no record of the language spoken by the ancient people of Teotihuacan. The name “Teotihuacán” is from the Nahautl language spoken by the Aztecs, and means “City of the Gods”. All of the place names at Teotihuacan are either of Aztec origin or have been given by the people who studied the ruins (Arnold). This one of the true beauties of Art History, nothing is for certain but we are left with the ruins to be marveled and valued. To find an understanding to the artwork of the Teotihuacan’s becoming more acquainted with the history and culture of Teotihuacan would be beneficial. Culture had a huge impact their artwork. Teotihuacan is believed to have been a very rich and diverse culture, thriving long before any Europeans had came to the Americas. Although the people who built and called Teotihuacan their home have long since vanished, we can discover them from the artifacts left behind. It’s possible to learn about their daily lives from pottery, tools, baskets, and other items left behind. Their buildings show us how they lived, worked, and possibly worshiped. Sculptures, carvings and murals help us learn about their beliefs and customs. Teotihuacan flourished from 100 B.C.E to 750 C.E., with a population believed to be anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000, making Teotihuacan among the greatest cities of its time (Pasztory). During this period the people of Teotihuacan built two of the greatest pyramids of Mesoamerica, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun. The Pyramid of the Sun is as great in mass as the pyramid at Giza in Egypt, although it is not as tall. It and the Pyramid of the Moon at the end Avenue [of the Dead] rival in size and majesty [in contrast to] the mountains that ring the Valley of Teotihuacan (Pasztory). The avenue of the dead is the main road, running east to west, in the heart of Teotihuacan. This avenue is of great size spanning over three miles and reaching widths of approximately 140 feet (Pasztory). On the avenue you can see the Pyramid of the sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent. Also on the avenue you will find the plaza. This is believed to have been an outdoor market. There is another road running north to south which divides the city into quarters. With in these quarters were the pyramids, palaces, temples, and apartment compounds were people lived. Teotihuacan is one of the first civilizations to establish a complex urban center (Arnold). Among all these buildings murals have been found. The murals were everywhere from the pyramids to the public housing. A lot of these murals have been illegally placed in personal collections (Pasztory). Some of the murals were split up, without being numbered or logged, making it hard to interpret the remaining pieces or whole murals. The murals consisted of many colors with red being very dominant....
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