By Rex Koontz
El Tajín, an historical Mesoamerican capital in Veracruz, Mexico, has lengthy been popular for its gorgeous pyramids and ballcourts embellished with large sculptural courses. but the city's singularity because the simply heart within the sector with the sort of wealth of sculpture and high quality structure has hindered makes an attempt to put it extra firmly within the context of Mesoamerican historical past. In Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents, Rex Koontz undertakes the 1st vast remedy of El Tajín's iconography in over thirty years, permitting us to view its imagery within the broader Mesoamerican context of emerging capitals and new elites in the course of a interval of basic ancient transformations.
Koontz makes a speciality of 3 significant architectural features—the Pyramid of the Niches/Central Plaza ensemble, the South Ballcourt, and the Mound of the construction Columns complex—and investigates the meanings in their sculpture and the way those meanings may were skilled by means of particular audiences. Koontz reveals that the iconography of El Tajín finds a lot approximately how motifs and elite rites transforming into out of the vintage interval have been transmitted to later Mesoamerican peoples because the cultures founded on Teotihuacan and the Maya turned the myriad city-states of the Early Postclassic period.
By reexamining the iconography of sculptures lengthy within the checklist, in addition to introducing vital new monuments and contexts, Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents basically demonstrates El Tajín's various iconographic connections with different parts of Mesoamerica, whereas additionally exploring its roots in an indigenous Gulf lowlands tradition whose outlines are just now rising. whilst, it starts to discover a principally missed neighborhood inventive tradition of which Tajín is the crowning success.
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Extra info for Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents: The Public Sculpture of El Tajín
13). Here a figure is dressed in a serpent headdress, which in turn is surmounted by an elaborate feather headdress containing two burning torches (von Winning 1979). The figure holds another pair of burning torches, while below are numerous Classic Veracruz scroll forms of the type Stark (1998, 1999:148–149, 2001:339) has associated specifically with the south-central Gulf lowlands. In sum, the imagery of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid at Teotihuacan shares certain fundamental characteristics with what is identified here as the iconography of Feathered Serpents and mirrors in Classic Veracruz generally and in Tajín’s Structure 4 Panel particularly.
AD 350–600) (drawing by the author); b, Classic Veracruz panel resembling Cacahuatal phase works from Tajín region, Museo de Antropología de Xalapa (drawing by Daniela Koontz, courtesy Museo de Antropología de Xalapa). Teotihuacan and the Classic Veracruz panel, but clearly a derivative motif, with a blade emerging from the open maw. As Stone (1989:158) notes, this mirror and blade-tongued serpent motif can be traced back to Early Classic Maya imagery, which would make it roughly contemporary with the Classic Veracruz stela and the Teotihuacan imagery.
AD 100; Daneels 1997), but no other Gulf lowlands center yet studied has such a large concentration. Few Mesoamerican cities anywhere had as many ballcourts: to date only Cantona (twenty-four courts) and Chichén Itzá (thirteen) can claim more during this period (Taladoire 2001:114). Several of the Tajín ballcourts include stone sculpture with a complex iconography that contains clues to the courts’ function and meaning. The subject of this chapter is the meaning encoded in the most prominent and elaborately decorated ballcourt, and what that may tell us about its function.
Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents: The Public Sculpture of El Tajín by Rex Koontz