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Dallas Museum of Art presents The Legend of Quetzalcoatl in Southern Mexico
Codex Nuttall, Mexico, Western Oaxaca, Mixtec, 15th–16th century. Deerskin, gesso, and pigments, 44 11/16 x 7 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (113.5 x 19 x 23.5 cm). Trustees of the British Museum, London (MSS 39671). Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum/Art Resource, NY.

DALLAS, TX.- The Dallas Museum of Art presents The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico, the first large-scale exploration of the ancient kingdoms of southern Mexico and their patron deity, Quetzalcoatl, an incarnation of the spirit force of wind and rain that combined the attributes of a serpent with those of the quetzal bird, thus the name “Plumed Serpent.” On view from July 29 through November 25, 2012, this groundbreaking exhibition features 150 objects loaned from museums and private collections in Mexico, Europe, and the United States. The Los Angeles Times described The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico as “dazzling [with] numerous ‘wow’ moments,” and the Huffington Post called the exhibition “imaginative . . . a dramatic and thoroughly engaging exploration of the art of ancient Mexico.” These rare artworks, which are more than five centuries old, trace the development of an extensive trade network that resulted in a period of international entrepreneurship and innovation that spread across ancient Mexico, the American Southwest, and Central America during the Postclassic (AD 900–1521) and early colonial periods. The extraordinary wonders produced by these confederacies are explored in codices, shell, textiles, and other precious materials.

“With The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico, we are pleased to invite the community to learn about and engage with these stunning artifacts from the ancient Americas,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, focuses on an era of cultural innovation in Mesoamerica. Trade networks, closely linked to the deity Quetzalcoatl, fostered the exchange of both goods and ideas across vast distances. These southern Mexican kingdoms, which recognized Quetzalcoatl as their founder and patron, became, and continue to be, the Children of the Plumed Serpent.

“This exhibition includes wonderful and extraordinary objects that rarely go on tour,” stated Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, and curator of the Dallas presentation. “Among them is the Codex Nuttall, which for the first time is on view in the United States, on loan from the British Museum.”

The Codex Nuttall, one of a small number of known Mexican codices (illustrated screenfold manuscript books) dating to pre-Hispanic times, is made of deerskin and comprises forty-seven leaves. One side of the document relates the history of important centers in the Mixtec region, while the other, starting at the opposite end, records the genealogy, marriages, and political and military feats of the Mixtec ruler Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw. The Codex Nuttall, which was first published in 1902, is one of the few Mesoamerican pictorial documents to have escaped destruction.

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