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Mexica Ceremonial Censer Replica Handed over to Tlahuac Community
These high-quality pieces represent priests dressed as deities participating in a ceremony dedicated to maize and fertility. Photo: DMC INAH/M. Tapia.
MEXICO CITY.- Fifteen years ago, 5 ceremonial censers were found in community plots at Tlahuac, a Mexico City delegation. The dwellers are celebrating the return of one of them dedicated to Chicomecoatl, the Mexica maize goddess, which replica will be guarded at Cuitlahuac Regional Community Museum from September 4th 2010.

It was in August 3rd 1995 when Jesus Galindo Ortega discovered the terracotta censers covered with stucco, which dimensions go from 106 to 120 centimeters and present a great ornamental richness, as well as a good conservation state.

These high-quality pieces represent priests dressed as deities participating in a ceremony dedicated to maize and fertility, as the 36th Borbonic Codex page illustrates, where several lords at the Titl ceremony carry the same iconographic elements of the censers.

The censers represent Xilonen, goddess of fertility; Chicomecoatl, goddess of mature maize; Tlaloc, deity of rain; Neppatecuhtli, priest of Tlaloc, and Chalchiuhtlicue, goddess of water.

Considered an important archaeological discovery, it was notified to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and archaeologist Pedro Ortega, from the Direction of Archaeological Salvage, went to the place of the discovery to find out that the Late Post Classic period (1500-1520 AD) Mexica pieces were beautiful.

After the archaeological salvage, the censers underwent restoration. In 2001 they became part of the permanent exhibition at the Mexica Hall, where the beauty of 4 of them is enjoyed daily by hundreds of visitors at the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA). The Chalchiuhtlicue representation was found incomplete and is not at display.

These censers have been part of international exhibitions, such as “Aztecs”, at the Royal Academy of Arts, in London; “Aztechi”, at Palazzo Ruspoli, in Rome; “The Aztec Empire” in New York and Bilbao Guggenheim museums; and “The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire” at the Paul Getty Museum of Los Angeles.

An exact replica of the Chicomecoatl censer created at the INAH Reproductions Workshop will be delivered by the Institute to Tlahuac community to celebrate the finding’s 15th anniversary.

Archaeologist Pedro Ortega mentioned that the censer presents a rich polychromy in red, white, black and blue. “The back of the piece is a recipient where copal was burned in Prehispanic times to thank deities for a good rain cycle and prosperous harvests”.

A feast is being organized for the occasion in September 4th 2010 at 11 hours: dances and music will take place at the Tlahuac Delegation esplanade, from where a procession will take the Chicomecoatl representation to it’s definitely seat, the Regional Community Museum of Tlahuac.

Jesus Galindo Ortega, who presides the Tecpancalco, Atenchincalca and Tepancalco “Tizic” Neighborhoods Alliance, commented that INAH will deliver the other 4 replicas of the censers found in Tlahuac to be exhibited in the local museum.

“According to the offering made by the Institute to the community, this will happen once we have constituted in a civil organization and coadjuvant organism in the historical and archaeological heritage preservation.

“This is how Cuitlahuac Community Museum was founded, where 80 archaeological pieces are exhibited.

“This work has allowed creating conscience in the community of the need of preserving Tlahuac archaeological heritage, which was a very important Mexica ceremonial center, as the discovery of many pieces evidence. Since the censers were found, people have more interest in heritage conservation and have donated to the museum pieces they have found”, remarked Jesus Galindo.

Cuitlahuac Regional Community Museum is located at 63 Tlahuac-Chalco Ave. in Tlahuac Center, Mexico City.

National Institute of Anthropology and History | Mexica Ceremonial Censer Replica | Pedro Ortega |


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